Statistical significance of hair analysis of clenbuterol to discriminate therapeutic use from contamination

Statistical significance of hair analysis of clenbuterol to discriminate therapeutic use from contamination / Aniko Krumbholz, Patricia Anielski, Lena Gfrerer, Matthias Graw, Hans Geyer, Wilhelm Schänzer, Jiri Dvorak, Detlef Thieme. (Drug testing and analysis 6 (2014) 11-12 (November-December); p. 1108-1116)

  • PMID: 25388545.
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.1746


Clenbuterol is a well-established β2-agonist, which is prohibited in sports and strictly regulated for use in the livestock industry. During the last few years clenbuterol-positive results in doping controls and in samples from residents or travellers from a high-risk country were suspected to be related the illegal use of clenbuterol for fattening. A sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method was developed to detect low clenbuterol residues in hair with a detection limit of 0.02 pg/mg. A sub-therapeutic application study and a field study with volunteers, who have a high risk of contamination, were performed. For the application study, a total dosage of 30 µg clenbuterol was applied to 20 healthy volunteers on 5 subsequent days. One month after the beginning of the application, clenbuterol was detected in the proximal hair segment (0-1 cm) in concentrations between 0.43 and 4.76 pg/mg. For the second part, samples of 66 Mexican soccer players were analyzed. In 89% of these volunteers, clenbuterol was detectable in their hair at concentrations between 0.02 and 1.90 pg/mg. A comparison of both parts showed no statistical difference between sub-therapeutic application and contamination. In contrast, discrimination to a typical abuse of clenbuterol is apparently possible. Due to these findings results of real doping control samples can be evaluated.

Original document


Research / Study
1 November 2014
Anielski, Patricia
Dvorak, Jiri
Geyer, Hans
Gfrerer, Lena
Graw, Matthias
Krumbholz, Aniko
Schänzer, Wilhelm
Thieme, Detlef
Football (FIFA) - International Football Federation
Other organisations
Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) - Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Kreischa, Germany: Institute of Doping Analysis and Sports Biochemistry (IDAS)-Dresden
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
Food and/or drinks
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Scientific article
Date generated
5 June 2019
Date of last modification
7 September 2020
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