Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Doping test confuses sulbutiamine with boldenone


Many sports supplements contain a mild stimulant that shows up as the anabolic steroid boldenone [see structural formula below] in doping tests. Researchers at the Moscow Antidoping Centre discovered this when they happened to do tests on the urine of an employee who was using sulbutiamine.

Sulbutiamine [structural formula shown here] is a synthetic analogue of thiamine, alias vitamin B1. Its slightly different structure means it enters cells more easily than regular vitamin B1 does. As a result of this thiamine analogues sulbutiamine isn't the only one show a performance enhancing effect in animal studies. The results of animal studies suggest that they may have a modest muscle-building effect too. [Br Poult Sci. 1999 Mar;40(1):127-30.]

Sulbutiamine has been on the market for years as an OTC drug by the name of Arcalion. In 2006 manufacturers started to add sulbutiamine to energy supplements and now you find it, no doubt in miniscule amounts, in many pre-workout products.

In the periodical Drug Testing and Analysis, Russian doping hunters write about the analysis they did of the urine of the employee who used Arcalion. They noticed a peak that they would normally have interpreted as proof of the presence of the boldenone metabolite 17-beta-hydroxy 5-beta androst-1-ene-3-one, in other words the non-active twin brother of 1-testosterone. Because the employee was not using boldenone but sulbutiamine, the doping hunters worked out which substance was causing the peak and it turned out to be a metabolite of sulbutiamine.

The doping hunters wrote the article because they realise that regular tests are not always able to distinguish between the sulbutiamine analogue and the boldenone analogue.

Doping test confuses sulbutiamine with boldenone

When the researchers then re-analyzed old urine samples, they discovered that scores of athletes they tested were using sulbutiamine, and may thus have been wrongly noted as boldenone users. The thiamine analogue was certainly found in some samples taken during events. "This might point out that sulbutiamine was deliberately administered for its stimulating effect", write the Russians.

Doping test confuses sulbutiamine with boldenone

If you've been caught for using boldenone, and know you're innocent - now you know how it might have happened.

Drug Test Anal. 2010 Oct 22. [Epub ahead of print].