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Sports Med. 2004;34(11):697-704.

Non-intentional doping in sports.

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Laboratory of Analytical Toxicology, College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 580, B13B, CEP: 05508-900, São Paulo, Brazil.


Compulsory drug testing was introduced in 1968 by the International Olympic Committee. Since then, several doping cases have been reported in sports competition world wide. Positive results are based on the detection of prohibited substances, their metabolites and markers in biological (mainly urine) samples supplied by athletes. In some cases, the evidences were not contested and athletes admitted the use of banned substances. However, in other cases, athletes denied the use of doping to enhance performance and claimed to have inadvertently or passively absorbed the drug. Unfortunately, no current accepted analytical method is capable of distinguishing between a sample from a cheater and one from an athlete who was passively exposed to a doping agent. Athletes' allegations have included the passive inhalation of drug smoke (e.g. marijuana) or the ingestion of food or products sold as nutritional supplements that contained prohibited substances. In the scientific literature, several studies have been performed to investigate the possibility of an accidental exposure being the reason for the appearance of detectable quantities of banned substances in urine samples. Based on these studies, this article discusses those cases where the athlete's claims could be possible in generating a positive result in doping control and in which circumstances it would be improbable to happen.

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