Detecting the misuse of 7-oxo-DHEA by means of carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry in doping control analysis

Detecting the misuse of 7-oxo-DHEA by means of carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry in doping control analysis / Thomas Piper, Gregor Fusshöller, Hans Geyer, Ani Toboc, Mădălin-George Dănilă, Mario Thevis. - (Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 34 (2019) 12 (30 June); p. 1-2)

  • PMID: 32143236
  • DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8776


Rationale: The misuse of 7-oxo-DHEA (3β-hydroxyandrost-5-ene-7,17-dione) is prohibited according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. Nevertheless, it is easily available as a dietary supplement and from black market sources. In two recent doping control samples, significant amounts of its main metabolite 7β-OH-DHEA were identified, necessitating further investigations.

Methods: As both 7-oxo-DHEA and 7β-OH-DHEA are endogenously produced steroids and no concentration thresholds applicable to routine doping controls exist, the development and validation of a carbon isotope ratio (CIR) mass spectrometry method ha been desirable. Excretion studies encompassing 7-oxo-DHEA, 7-oxo-DHEA-acetate, and in-house deuterated 7-oxo-DHEA were conducted and evaluated with regard to urinary CIR and potential new metabolites of 7-oxo-DHEA.

Results: Numerous urinary metabolites were identified, some of which have not been reported before, while others corroborate earlier findings on the metabolism of 7-oxo-DHEA. The CIRs of both 7-oxo-DHEA and 7β-OH-DHEA were significantly influenced for more than 50 h after a single oral dose of 100 mg, and a novel metabolite (5α-androstane-3β,7β-diol-17-one) was found to prolong this detection time window by approximately 25 h. Applying the validated method to routine doping control specimens presenting atypically high urinary 7β-OH-DHEA levels clearly demonstrated the exogenous origin of 7-oxo-DHEA and 7β-OH-DHEA.

Conclusions: As established for other endogenously produced steroids such as testosterone, the CIR allows for a clear differentiation between endo- and exogenous sources of 7-oxo-DHEA and 7β-OH-DHEA. The novel metabolites detected after administration may help to improve the detection of 7-oxo-DHEA misuse and simplify its detection in doping control specimens.

Original document


Research / Study
6 March 2020
Dănilă, Mădălin-George
Fußhöller, Gregor
Geyer, Hans
Piper, Thomas
Thevis, Mario
Toboc, Ani
Other organisations
Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA)
Bucharest, Romania: Romanian Doping Control Laboratory (ROM)
Cologne, Germany: Institute of Biochemistry - German Sport University Cologne
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
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Scientific article
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Date generated
10 March 2021
Date of last modification
15 March 2021
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