Trafficking of drug candidates relevant for sports drug testing: detection of non-approved therapeutics categorized as anabolic and gene doping agents in products distributed via the Internet

Drug Test Anal. 2011 May;3(5):331-6. doi: 10.1002/dta.283. Epub 2011 May 3.


Identifying the use of non-approved drugs by cheating athletes has been a great challenge for doping control laboratories. This is due to the additional complexities associated with identifying relatively unknown and uncharacterized compounds and their metabolites as opposed to known and well-studied therapeutics. In 2010, the prohibited drug candidates and gene doping substances AICAR and GW1516, together with the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) MK-2866 were obtained by the Cologne Doping Control Laboratory from Internet suppliers and their structure, quantity, and formulation elucidated. All three compounds proved authentic as determined by liquid chromatography-high resolution/high accuracy (tandem) mass spectrometry and comparison to reference material. While AICAR was provided as a colourless powder in 100 mg aliquots, GW1516 was obtained as an orange/yellow suspension in water/glycerol (150 mg/ml), and MK-2866 (25 mg/ml) was shipped dissolved in polyethylene glycol (PEG) 300. In all cases, the quantified amounts were considerably lower than indicated on the label. The substances were delivered via courier, with packaging identifying them as containing 'amino acids' and 'green tea extract', arguably to circumvent customs control. Although all of the substances were declared 'for research only', their potential misuse in illicit performance-enhancement cannot be excluded; moreover sports drug testing authorities should be aware of the facile availability of black market copies of these drug candidates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amides / analysis
  • Amides / chemistry
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / analysis
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / chemistry
  • Anabolic Agents / analysis*
  • Anabolic Agents / chemistry
  • Anilides
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / analysis
  • Internet
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Ribonucleotides / analysis
  • Ribonucleotides / chemistry
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Thiazoles / analysis
  • Thiazoles / chemistry


  • Amides
  • Anabolic Agents
  • Anilides
  • GW 501516
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Ribonucleotides
  • Solvents
  • Thiazoles
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • AICA ribonucleotide
  • ostarine