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Anabolic Steroids Detection & Testing on Steroids

Anabolic Steroids Detection of anabolic steroids is fast becoming a major industry. Laboratories have cropped up all over the nation and involve some of the best scientists in the country. The majority of such laboratories cater to the sporting industry and help detect illegal substance in the urine.

Most of the companies use the technique of Liquid chromatography-Mass spectrometry. The name sounds complex but it is a very simple technique. First a standard anabolic steroid is injected into the machine. The machine recognizes it and develops a curve with peaks. The peaks are then depicted on a timed graph (see Figure below). The data is stored in the computer as a reference. Then an unknown drug is injected into the machine. If it is the same drug as the standard, it will appear in the same position at the same time. This immediately tells the technician that the unknown drug has matched a standard drug. The latest devices can even compute the dose of the drug. The amount of drug that can be detected with the latest machines is in nanograms (10-9 g).

When it comes to sports, urine samples are randomly collected and injected into the machine and all peaks are analyzed to see if they match any known peaks from reference steroids.


Typical presentation of what a GC MS looks like. Each peak represents a difference chemical. The time when the peak occurs is also important. First a standard drug is run through the machine and a base line is developed. Then a random sample is run and if it matches the peaks of the standard, then you have tested positive.


The technique of GC-MS can not only detect anabolic steroids but thousands of other pharmaceutical products. The synthetic anabolic steroids that can be detected with the present system include the following:

Anabolic Infection

Anabolic Steroid

Detection times

3 weeks
5 months
4 days
12 months
18 months
4-6 months
4-6 months
4-6 months
2 months
4-6 months
12 months
5-6 weeks
3 weeks
2 months
4-6 weeks
4-6 weeks
5-6 weeks
21 days
3 months
7-12 days
2 weeks
3 months

Home Urine Kits

The steroid detection kits can also be used at home, school or gym. The company usually sends a kit which contains sterile containers. One collects the urine in the container and ships it back. Within a week, the results are ready. Steroid Detection & Anabolic Steroids

Detection time frame


The detection of anabolic steroids in the urine is a tricky task. Not all steroids appear in the urine at the same time. Some steroids are excreted faster and can be detected in the urine in a few days after use. Other anabolic steroids remain in the body for months and can be detected in the urine months after their use has been discontinued. Detection of testosterone in the urine is meaningless. Testosterone is a natural hormone and low amount are detected in the urine of most males. However, when high levels of testosterone are detected in the urine, it is usually due to exogenous use.


Facts about Anabolic Steroid Testing in Urine


  • Laboratories who work in conjunction with sports agencies must be certified to ensure that they have decent quality and excellent staff.
  • The laboratories have a standard cutoff level of 2 ng/ml for all anabolic steroids. If the levels of an anabolic steroid are more than 2 ng/ml, it always raises suspicion of illegal use.
  • Since all tests can detect levels of testosterone and epitestosterone, the cut off point for these two steroids are different.
  • For Testosterone and epitestosterone, the ratios of the two substances are compared in the urine. The cutoff is 4:1. In the healthy adult male, the ratio of testosterone and epitestosterone is roughly 1:1. when this ratio is altered, there is always suspicion of illegal steroid use. While the ratio of 4:1 is the standard cutoff, there are some laboratories that use a cut off of 6:1.
  • When the testosterone levels are 4 times or more than the levels of epitestosterone, it means that someone has been using anabolic steroids.
  • In the majority of cases, the naturally occurring testosterone will not be detected in urine unless the dose is greater than 2 ng/ml.


Causes of falsely positive tests


Often these tests are falsely positive, meaning that the test will show the presence of anabolic steroids but the individuals has not taken anything illegal. Some of the reasons for this include:

False Positive Steroid Detection
  • taking oral contraceptives which contain norethisterone. Thus, all women must tell the sporting agencies what type of oral contraceptive they are taking
  • if someone is pregnant
  • someone who has ingested animal products which have been injected with steroids
  • some medical disorders where there is an overproduction of testosterone- usually cancers



Testing for anabolic steroids using GCMS is relatively inexpensive. A single test costs anywhere from $150- $250 depending on who does it. Because the testing can get to expensive when done on 100s of athletes, only random testing is performed. Cost is a limiting factor why these tests are not routinely done.


Final Word


Despite all the buzz about steroid testing, chances are likely that one will never get tested. In any case, the testing is getting sophisticated and can detect very low levels of anabolic steroids in the urine. The best way to not get caught is simply not use steroids.

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