Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 9, pp 2275–2281 | Cite as

Analytical challenges in sports drug testing

  • Mario Thevis
  • Oliver Krug
  • Hans Geyer
  • Katja Walpurgis
  • Norbert Baume
  • Andreas Thomas
Feature Article


Analytical chemistry represents a central aspect of doping controls. Routine sports drug testing approaches are primarily designed to address the question whether a prohibited substance is present in a doping control sample and whether prohibited methods (for example, blood transfusion or sample manipulation) have been conducted by an athlete. As some athletes have availed themselves of the substantial breadth of research and development in the pharmaceutical arena, proactive and preventive measures are required such as the early implementation of new drug candidates and corresponding metabolites into routine doping control assays, even though these drug candidates are to date not approved for human use. Beyond this, analytical data are also cornerstones of investigations into atypical or adverse analytical findings, where the overall picture provides ample reason for follow-up studies. Such studies have been of most diverse nature, and tailored approaches have been required to probe hypotheses and scenarios reported by the involved parties concerning the plausibility and consistency of statements and (analytical) facts. In order to outline the variety of challenges that doping control laboratories are facing besides providing optimal detection capabilities and analytical comprehensiveness, selected case vignettes involving the follow-up of unconventional adverse analytical findings, urine sample manipulation, drug/food contamination issues, and unexpected biotransformation reactions are thematized.


Clenbuterol Proguanil Chlorazanil Manipulation Doping Mass spectrometry 



The authors thank the Manfred-Donike-Institute for Doping Analysis (Cologne, Germany) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bonn, Germany) for the support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario Thevis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Oliver Krug
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hans Geyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katja Walpurgis
    • 1
  • Norbert Baume
    • 3
  • Andreas Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Preventive Doping Research – Institute of BiochemistryGerman Sport University CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA)Cologne/BonnGermany
  3. 3.Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, University Center of Legal Medicine, Geneva and Lausanne, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of LausanneEpalingesSwitzerland

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