Clenbuterol : regional food contamination a possible source for inadvertent doping in sports

Clenbuterol : regional food contamination a possible source for inadvertent doping in sports / Sven Guddat, Gregor Fußhöller, Hans Geyer, Andreas Thomas, H. Braun, Nadine Haenelt, Anne Schwenke, Catherine Klose, Mario Thevis, Wilhelm Schänzer. - (Drug testing and analysis 4 (2012) 6 (June); p. 534-538).

  • PMID: 22447758.
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.1330


The misuse of the sympathomimetic and anabolic agent clenbuterol has been frequently reported in professional sport and in the livestock industry. In 2010, a team of athletes returned from competition in China and regular doping control samples were taken within the next two days. All urine samples contained low amounts (pg/ml) of clenbuterol, drawing the attention to a well‐known problem: the possibility of an unintended clenbuterol intake with food. A warning that Chinese meat is possibly contaminated with prohibited substances according to international anti‐doping regulations was also given by Chinese officials just before the Bejing Olympic Games in 2008.

To investigate if clenbuterol can be found in human urine, a study was initiated comprising 28 volunteers collecting urine samples after their return from China. For the quantification of clenbuterol at a low pg/ml level, a very sensitive and specific isotope dilution liquid chromatography‐tandem mass spectrometry (LC‐MS/MS) assay was developed using liquid/liquid re‐extraction for clean‐up with a limit of detection and quantification of 1 and 3 pg/ml, respectively. The method was validated demonstrating good precision (intra‐day: 2.9–5.5 %; inter‐day: 5.1–8.8%), accuracy (89.5–102.5%) and mean recovery (81.4%). Clenbuterol was detectable in 22 (79%) of the analyzed samples, indicating a general food contamination problem despite an official clenbuterol prohibition in China for livestock.

Original document


Research / Study
22 March 2012
Braun, Hans
Fußhöller, Gregor
Geyer, Hans
Guddat, Sven
Haenelt, Nadine
Klose, Chatherine
Schänzer, Wilhelm
Schwenke, Anne
Thevis, Mario
Thomas, Andreas
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
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Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
Meat contamination
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Scientific article
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Date generated
2 July 2019
Date of last modification
7 September 2020
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