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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2000 March;53(1):75-81

language: Italian

Hair analysis in anti-doping tests: potential and prospects

Botrè F. 1, Strano Rossi S. 1, Chiarotti M. 2

1 Laboratorio Antidoping, Federazione Medico Sportiva Italiana, Roma;
2 Istituto di Medicina Legale, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Policlinico A. Gemelli, Roma


Under current IOC (International Olympic Committee) regulations an athletes dope test is only described as positive if the actual presence (in some cases in concentrations above a certain threshold limit) can be identified of drugs and/or their metabolites which appear on the IOC’s own list of prohibited substances and methods. The present paper describes the use of keratin matrices for antidoping test purposes and discusses their potential and limitations. Particular attention is paid to analysing hair samples for traces of drugs and/or metabolites with reference to the specific classes of prohibited substances.
The possibility of using hair sample analysis as a means of distinguishing between the occasional and regular intake of given drugs is examined in particular detail in the belief that it may be possible to obtain experimental data of a pharmacokinetic nature which would make it possible to differentiate between the illegal use of a prohibited substance for performance-enhancing purpose and its ingestion for legitimate medical reasons.
Finally the paper examines aspects relating to the applicability of hair tests in the framework of the IOC’s anti-doping surveillance with emphasis on the importance of guaranteeing at least the same level of confidentiality, reliability and reproducibility as currently apply to urine tests.

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