Firstly, one must be aware that the urine test is capable of detecting ratios of epitestosterone and testosterone in an individual. According to the standards, at 1:1 ratio is normal, and a T/E ratio of about 4:1 means unnaturally high amounts of testosterone.
Having a 6:1 T/E ratio suggests substance abuse, where external testosterone was injected into the body. These are no naturally occurring within the system, and so it can be considered as a way of cheating into the Olympic Games, or in any sport competition for that matter. This however, should not be the sole grounds of the rules.
There are a number of possible flaws in the different tests available, and a T/E ratio of 7:1 should not be the sole basis of a disqualification. Truly enough, the high ratio signifies a large amount of testosterone when compared to the natural epitestosterone. But one must remember that these are merely ratios, it is possible that the epitestosterone is just simply smaller in volume than the testosterone.
And this can be attributed to a number of reasons; one being is the genetic composition of the individual. The gene coding for the hormone might be defective, or may have been shut off by mutations and deletions on the human’s genome. It is also possible that certain proteins may have down-regulated the expression of the player’s epitestosterone.
But the probably the most plausible mistake would be on the testosterone side. The increase in testosterone can be blamed to several factors, including genetics and other pathogenic diseases, which are far from the athlete’s control. One way to prove that the accusation was wrong is to properly screen for several factors that could have brought up the testosterone level.
One is the presence of correctly-made plasma cells. Out of 98% of testosterone can be found attached in the plasma cells, and genetically-disabled plasma cells would account for the increase release of these hormones. Another experiment would be to test the activity of another hormone, the human gonadotropin hormone. This is essentially the prime mover for testosterone production, and any abnormalities on this would result to irregular testosterone levels on the body.
Aside from these, the results of the urine test could have been positive due to other hormones which are structurally similar to testosterone. Several hormones on the body, specifically epitestosterone are very similar in shape and structure to that of testosterone. A simple test using gas chromatography would then be futile in separating the twin structures. Enhanced methods should then be used, such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography, which has better resolution and will thus provide better results.
2) The regular production of performance-enhancing hormones truly became a huge barrier for diagnostics. But just because we don’t know the kind of drug being produced doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. The ace of scientists is the knowledge of the previous drugs produced. Fortunately, many are similar in structures – CHO rich, with some aromatic rings here and there.
These variations, though many in number, are quite predictable, and tests can be made for these substances. Antibody technology may also be useful, wherein probed antibodies specific to the key structures of these hormones can be made, and an individual’s urine can be screened for all possible structures the antibody is capable of detecting.
All of these are hard work, especially when in comes in the testing process. The rigorous and tedious work can be greatly reduced if the government can find a way to prevent the whole system – track and close down makers of these drugs, prevent the distribution to the athletes. Of course, the athletes themselves have a lot to work on. But for the scientists, it all boils down to proper pursue and research.
Tests are extremely hard since it normally requires one to know a substance for him to create a test for it. For a totally new drug then, it needs all the barriers it can get, rigorous watch out for illegal use, preventing its entrance to society while science tries to crack the drug down. Only then, when science and society help together, will this arms race come to an end.