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Forensic Sci Int. 2016 Oct;267:166-172. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.08.029. Epub 2016 Aug 28.

Detection of the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide in a doping control urine sample as the result of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) tablet contamination.

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Pharmaceutical Control Laboratory, Office of the Cantonal Pharmacist, Baltzerstrasse 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.
Antidoping Switzerland, Eigerstrasse 60, CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Antidoping Switzerland, Eigerstrasse 60, CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland.
Institute of Biochemistry-Center for Preventive Doping Research, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany; European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents, Cologne/Bonn, Germany.
Institute of Biochemistry-Center for Preventive Doping Research, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany.


Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, 6-chloro-3,4-dihydro-2H-1,2,4-benzothiadiazine-7-sulfonamide-1,1-dioxide) belongs to the class of diuretic agents that represent one of today's cornerstones of the treatment of hypertensive patients. In addition to its clinical relevance, HCTZ is prohibited in sports according to the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at all times and has frequently been detected in sports drug testing urine samples worldwide since its ban was introduced in 1988. Despite these facts, the adverse analytical finding concerning HCTZ in an in-competition routine doping control sample collected in December 2014 was further investigated, particularly motivated by the comparably low urinary concentration of the drug accounting for approximately 5ng/mL. The athlete in question did not declare the use of any nutritional supplement or medication other than the ingestion of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prior to competition. Hence, the drug (formulated as coated tablet) provided by the athlete as well as the corresponding retention sample of the manufacturer were analyzed. Noteworthy, both samples confirmed the presence of about 2μg of HCTZ per tablet. In order to further probe for the plausibility of the observed urinary HCTZ concentrations with the scenario of drug ingestion and subsequent doping control sample collection, administration studies with produced HCTZ-spiked placebo-tablets (2.5μg of HCTZ/tablet) were conducted. Urine specimens were collected prior to and after ingestion of the drug and subjected to routine doping control analytical procedures employing liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. While blank urine samples returned negative test results, post-administration specimens were found to contain HCTZ at concentrations of approximately 1-16ng/mL, which supported the athlete's inadvertent intake of HCTZ via contaminated NSAID tablets. Due to the substantial sensitivity of test methods employed today by doping control laboratories, even drug contaminations ranging within the good manufacturing practice (GMP) limit of 10ppm overall carry-over can evidently lead to adverse analytical findings. This calls into question whether selected (classes of) substances such as diuretics should be reported only when exceeding a defined reporting level and/or whether adverse analytical findings of non-threshold substances should be reported with an estimated semi-quantitative concentration of the identified substance to facilitate the result management by anti-doping organizations.


Contamination; Diuretics; Doping; Hydrochlorothiazide; Mass spectrometry; Sport

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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