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Drug Test Anal. 2009 May;1(5):209-13. doi: 10.1002/dta.31.

Interpretation of urinary concentrations of pseudoephedrine and its metabolite cathine in relation to doping control.

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DoCoLab, UGent, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Technologiepark 30, B-9052 Gent, Belgium.


Until the end of 2003 a urinary concentration of pseudoephedrine exceeding 25 microg/mL was regarded as a doping violation by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Since its removal from the prohibited list in 2004 the number of urine samples in which pseudoephedrine was detected in our laboratory increased substantially. Analysis of 116 in-competition samples containing pseudoephedrine in 2007 and 2008, revealed that 66% of these samples had a concentration of pseudoephedrine above 25 microg/mL. This corresponded to 1.4% of all tested in competition samples in that period. In the period 2001-2003 only 0.18% of all analysed in competition samples contained more than 25 microg/mL. Statistical comparison of the two periods showed that after the removal of pseudoephedrine from the list its use increased significantly. Of the individual sports compared between the two periods, only cycling is shown to yield a significant increase.Analysis of excretion urine samples after administration of a therapeutic daily dose (240 mg pseudoephedrine) in one administration showed that the threshold of 25 microg/mL can be exceeded. The same samples were also analysed for cathine, which has currently a threshold of 5 microg/mL on the prohibited list. The maximum urinary concentration of cathine also exceeded the threshold for some volunteers. Comparison of the measured cathine and pseudoephedrine concentrations only indicated a poor correlation between them. Hence, cathine is not a good indicator to control pseudopehedrine intake. To control the (ab)use of ephedrines in sports it is recommended that WADA reintroduce a threshold for pseudoephedrine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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