Anti-doping technology has never been more advanced. As performance athletics around the world grow in stature and profitability, athletes (and more notably, their trainers) are continuing to look for new ways to circumvent traditional drug testing methods. The stakes have never been higher.
The most recent advancements in athlete drug testing are almost incomprehensible. Here are three ways labs are working to stay ahead of the cheating curve.
1. Retroactive Liquid Testing
The absolute most accurate way to test for banned substances today is to test liquid samples retroactively. By drawing blood and/or urine at the competition site, researchers are able to more accurately – and more comprehensively – test their content offsite using specialized hydrolyzation methods. In fact, dozens of athletes came under fire just last year when their long-dormant samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics retroactively tested positive for banned substances.
2. Long-term Metabolites
The window during which anabolic steroid metabolites will still be present in an athlete’s sample is lengthening. Thanks to finely-tuned testing methods – often iterations of mass spectrometry - labs are now able to detect residual steroid metabolites for months (rather than just a few weeks) after an event has taken place. These tests are primarily useful for substances like metandienone, oxymetholone, and stanozolol, which are classified as general steroids.
3. Gene Doping Tests
More and more, athletes are being given synthetic DNA that codes for erythropoietin, also known as “EPO,” to up red blood cell count and increase oxygen delivery to the muscles. Since EPO is naturally occurring in the human body, detection of abuse is difficult. Certain techniques, such as scanning blood samples for EPO that is missing critical introns (as synthetic DNA would be), and inspecting for unusual sugar decorations left by bacteria rather than by humans, are helping stop cheaters in their tracks.
IMCS and our team of biological researchers believe in the science of drug testing. Performance enhancing drugs have come a long way over the last century, but the advancements seen over the last decade alone mean scientists have their work cut out for them. In the modern world, staying ahead in anti-doping technology means more than detection…it means prediction.
IMCS products are made to produce fast, accurate results for researchers. IMCStips utilize a patented solid-phase extraction technology to advance the science of proteomics; IMCSzyme, our flagship enzyme product, is a genetically modified pure beta glucuronidase that hydrolyzes multiple drug classes quickly and efficiently.