Drug testing in modern-day sporting events is quite common nowadays. We are normally led to believe that a very small percentage of competitors use performance-enhancing drugs, but the truth is that is very commonplace amongst modern-day competitors. There really isn’t anything wrong in wanting to have a competitive edge over your main rivals, and that would normally amount to some form of anabolic steroids backed up by a plan to beat the test.
You will find in certain competing sports such as powerlifting and body-building that almost every competitor is drug tested. This is so that they are all competing on par except for the natural talent level of course, but if the truth were to be revealed; it’s the guy who takes steroids and who knows how to cheat the test, who actually ends up winning. “That’s not fair” you’re saying…Well maybe it isn’t, but that’s just what these sports have become and there’s no turning back.
There are many sporting authorities that only know how it gives negative press towards the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but the matter of the fact is that it is the individual who has to make that decision. Everyone knows what will happen if you get caught taking them, but once again we are back to gaining the competitive edge. We often hear of athletes who haven’t turned up for a drug test, which can help an athlete avoid being sanctioned, but we are going to take a closer look at how the test can be beaten.
Types of Testing Procedure: During athletic meetings, the most common body fluid that is tested for the presence of drugs is normal urine. We will be concentrating on dealing with the different procedures that are carried out to test this body fluid, although such procedures carried out to assess blood for the presence of illegal substances are practically the same.
There are several types of laboratory test procedures that are put in use to detect the presence of performance enhancers and we need first of all to see just how they function. Rule number one is to find out exactly which type of sample analysis will be used, well in advance of the event so that you can start to put your plan together.
Gas Chromatography(GC): This method uses a separation technique to divide a urine extract into its component chemical parts. These substances are carried through chromatographic columns by a gas: chromatography is simply a means of separating mixtures of compounds from each other and enables identification in many cases. The chemical compounds in the urine are identified by their ‘retention time’ on the chromatographic column – the retention time is unique for each drug, and so enables identification.
Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry(GC/MS): This specific test will use a mixture of gas chromatography, followed up by mass spectrometry on the chemicals that have been separated from the urine in the chromatographic column. The mass spectrometry will reveal the exact identification of any drugs which are found present in the urine by actually producing a perfect ‘molecular fingerprint’ match of any chemicals that are found present. Meaning that the chemical structure of the drugs that are present (the atoms present within the drug, and in the order, they are actually bonded together) results by putting this method to use. “Unfortunately” this test is just too expensive to use and just the well-off sporting associations can afford to use it. The test of this cost is on average about one hundred pounds per sample (almost $200 US).
It is quite fair to say that these two tests are reasonably accurate, although there is always room for human error. One example would be due to poor cleaning after the previous test and if that sample should have contained illegal drugs…This would obviously cause contamination and could lead to an incorrect positive test. So in the case that you are found to be positive, make sure you protest, especially if you are clean or should have been.
High-Performance Liquid Chromatography(HPLC): This technique is extremely interesting as it tends to be used on test samples that are suspected of having anabolic steroids present. It’s quite similar to GC, apart from that a liquid is used as a carrier for the sample through a chromatographic column, and not a gas. HPLC is both sensitive and a lot easier to carry out than GC. This test is often carried out on results that have already come from less sensitive ones.