The forensic response after an adverse analytical finding (doping) involving a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) in human athlete

The forensic response after an adverse analytical finding (doping) involving a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) in human athlete / Pascal Kintz. - (Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 207 (2022) January: 114433)

  • PMID: 34715583
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jpba.2021.114433


Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are a class of drugs presenting identical anabolic properties to anabolic steroids in addition to marked reduced androgenic effects. These drugs have emerged in the doping area within the early 2000's. Ligandrol, ostarine, RAD-140 and andarine are the most popular agents belonging to this class. According to the world anti-doping agency (WADA) prohibited list, SARMs are prohibited at all times (i.e. in and out-of-competition) and are listed under the section S1.2 (other anabolic agents). The compilation of the WADA testing figures reports from 2015 to 2019 has indicated a regular increase of adverse analytical findings (AAF) due to SARMs, particularly with ostarine and ligandrol. The implementation of highly sensitive chromatographic anti-doping analyses has induced high-profile challenges of anti-doping rules violations as athletes have claimed in numerous occasions that contamination was the reason for their AAF. Since the early 2000's, it has been accepted by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne (Switzerland) that, under some specific circumstances, unusual explanations can be provided to the Panel to explain an AAF. This was the open door for forensic investigations, as it is done in criminal Courts. A forensic approach can include testing for SARMs in food, drinks, but mostly in dietary supplements. As most anti-doping rules violations are only known several weeks after urine collection, this biological matrix is seldom use for further tests, despite the fact that most SARMs can be detected for several weeks in urine. Luckily, hair or nail testing can be a complement to document the claim of the athlete but of course, it cannot be considered as an alternative to urinalysis. This is because a negative hair or nail result cannot exclude the use of the detected drug and cannot overrule the urine result. To date, all methods for SARMs identification in various matrices involve liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry or high-resolution mass spectrometry. The aim of this paper is to review the scientific literature on the analytical possibilities of testing SARMs in dietary supplements, urine and hair or nail clippings after an AAF to document the claims of an athlete or his/her legal team.

Original document


18 October 2021
Kintz, Pascal
Other organisations
Institut de médecine légale de Strasbourg
Analytical aspects
Forensic investigation
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
Enobosarm (ostarine)
LGD-4033 (ligandrol)
Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs)
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
11 November 2021
Date of last modification
17 November 2021
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