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Agilent in sports drug testing backgrounder

Agilent in Sports Drug Testing
For more than 30 years, Agilent Technologies has been a leading provider of analytical instruments for drug testing in sports. In 1972, Agilent supplied drug testing equipment to the first Olympic Games in which testing was required. Since then, Agilent equipment has played a role in each of the Olympic Games as well as major events such as World Cup Soccer. Agilent provides instrumentation to doping control laboratories that allow scientists to identify, confirm and quantify thousands of substances in a wide variety of samples. The company does not perform the actual analysis of the samples nor is it involved in determining the regulations. The Banned List
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has outlined six classes of prohibited
substances: stimulants; narcotics; anabolic agents/steroids; diuretics; peptide hormones
and related compounds; and other restricted drugs. These classes include more than
400 substances and thousands of related compounds. International sports associations
and professional sport leagues usually follow the WADA guidelines with some
Each class of drugs provides different advantages in performance and so are more likely to be used in certain sports. Likewise, each drug class is more suited for a certain type of instrument and analysis. Stimulants
To increase alertness and aggression and reduce fatigue during Long-distance running, cycling, American football, baseball Tested by: Gas chromatography, mass spectrometery Examples: Amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, ephedrine Narcotics
To reduce pain sensitivity during training and competition Boxing, contact sports, other sports for faster recovery during training Tested by: Gas chromatography, mass spectrometery Examples: Heroin, morphine, methadone, opium
Anabolic Agents/Steroids

To increase muscle strength and bulk during training All sports, including weightlifting, gymnastics, track and field Tested by: Gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry Examples: Testosterone, nandrolone, THG, beta-2 agonists Agilent in Sports Drug Testing
To lose weight quickly, to evade doping tests by diluting urine Sports with weight classes such as weightlifting, wrestling and boxing; may be used in all sports to attempt to hide drug use Tested by: Gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry Examples: Dexa-trim, mannitol Peptide Hormone and related substances
To increase muscle strength and bulk; to increase endurance Various sports; For example, growth hormones and factors are used in strength sports and bodybuilding, EPO for endurance events such as cycling and long-distance running Tested by: Liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and immunoassays; misuse can be difficult to detect reliably as these compounds occur naturally in the body Examples: human growth hormone (HGH), erythropoietin (EPO)
Other Restricted Drugs
Various although many are not considered to enhance performance Various sports; For example, beta blockers are used in events requiring concentration (archery, shooting) to calm nerves and reduce hand tremors Tested by: Gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry Examples: Marijuana, corticosteroids, beta blockers, alcohol, local anesthetics The most commonly tested biological sample is urine because it is easier to collect
adequate volumes and collection is not invasive. Drug and metabolite levels are also
higher in urine than other sample types. Some types of drugs are difficult to detect in
urine, however, so blood samples may be tested.
Athletes can be tested at any time and any place. When the testing is in connection with
a specific athletic competition (Olympics, Pan-American Games, etc.), it is considered
“in competition.” When the testing is away from competition, in the off-season or during
training, it is considered “out-of-competition.” In this testing, the anti-doping officials
arrive unannounced at the athlete’s home or training center and collect a sample for
subsequent analysis.
The Sample Analysis Process
Three technologies form the core of most major drug testing laboratories: gas
chromatography (GC), liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectrometry (MS). These
state-of-the-art technologies are the same as those used in homeland security,
forensics/criminal investigation, environmental testing, and food safety. Their extreme
sensitivity makes it very difficult for drug users to evade detection. For example, they
can detect anabolic steroids that were used as much as 10 months prior to competition.
Agilent in Sports Drug Testing
Gas Chromatography (GC)
When a sample is sent to a doping control laboratory, it is
first screened using an Agilent 6890 GC system. Gas
chromatography separates and detects the components in a
sample. First, a sample is vaporized and is sent into a
separation column. The compounds in the sample separate
in the column and are detected one by one as they exit. The
speed and sequence at which the components exit the
column identify unknown compounds in the sample.
Agilent 6890 GC
Liquid Chromatography
Gas chromatography may not be suitable for screening of
certain compounds like peptide hormones since these
cannot survive the vaporizing process. In these cases, the
samples are screened using liquid chromatography on an
Agilent 1100 Series LC system. LC is another technique for
separating and detecting sample components. It uses a
liquid solvent instead of a gas (like in GC) to carry the
Agilent 1100 LC
sample into a column for separation and detection. Mass spectrometry
If a banned substance is detected during screening, it goes
to a mass spectrometer to confirm its chemical identity.
The mass spectrometer often is directly connected to a gas
chromatograph or a liquid chromatograph to form highly
sensitive and specific GC/MS and LC/MS systems. The
mass spectrometer measures the molecular weight of
substances, generating a spectral pattern that is unique to
the compound being analyzed. This chemical “fingerprint”
is compared to a database of reference spectra to provide
Agilent 5973 GC/MS
unambiguous confirmation of the compound.


World Anti-Doping Agency:


Issue 4

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