Detection of testosterone doping in female athletes

Detection of testosterone doping in female athletes / David J. Handelsman, Stéphane Bermon. - (Drug Testing and Analysis (2019) 27 August)

  • PMID: 31454165.
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.2689


Testosterone doping remains a prevalent and potent form of drug cheating among elite athletes. In men, the urine testosterone (T) to epitestosterone (E) ratio (T/E ratio) can identify administration of exogenous T by its suppression of endogenous T production through strong negative feedback on endogenous T and E production as well as spill over into urine of extra testosterone. However, this mechanism may be partially inoperative in females whose much lower circulating T derives from three sources, none subject to powerful negative T feedback. Hence, additional methods to detect T doping in females are required. In this study we report two cases of elite female athletes who were sanctioned for T doping proven by measurement of serum T using liquid chromatography−mass spectrometry (LC–MS), when serial urine T and T/E ratio in one were not indicative of T doping, and in the other were nullified by incidental genetic inactivation of T glucuronidation through the uridine diphosphoglucuronosyl transferase 2B17 (UGT2B17) deletion genotype–phenotype. These findings indicate the potential for serum T measurement by LC–MS to detect T doping in female athletes, especially if implemented in the Bayesian format of an athlete biological passport.


Research / Study
27 August 2019
Bermon, Stéphane
Handelsman, David J.
Athletics (WA) - World Athletics
Other organisations
Laboratoire Motricité Humaine Expertise Sport Santé (LAMHESS)
Université Côte d'Azur - University of Côte d'Azur
Université internationale de Monaco - International University of Monaco (IUM)
University of Sydney (USyd)
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
T/E ratio (testosterone / epitestosterone)
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Date generated
9 September 2019
Date of last modification
7 September 2020
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