For sports fans and athletes, the topic of drug testing has become more heated and complex in recent years. Many athletes competing in the Olympics or other competitive sports events have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Detection of PEDs has been the basis for suspensions of athletes in nearly every sport, and this has become a topic of conversation in talk shows and news commentary. Because sports doping has become so problematic, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports agencies now require routine drug testing of athletes to be performed randomly before or after events.
Urine Testing for Athletes as an Anti-Doping Measure
Conventional urine sampling for the presence of anabolic steroids and other banned substances can be cumbersome. Liquid urine samples of +100ml are typical and must be analyzed immediately or refrigerated to 2-8°C (35-46.4°F) until analysis can be performed.
New Approaches to Urine Specimen for Testing Athletes
Two newer techniques for urine sampling reduce the need for refrigeration and storage of the urine samples. The newer methods can be used to eliminate the expense and handling difficulties of body fluids.
These advances are a result of improved evaluation techniques and new innovations in sampling devices.
Two proven microsampling methods are available to evaluate urine samples for the presence or performance enhancing drugs. These are:
DUS: Dried Urine Samples (DUS) are drops of urine placed on specially treated cards and then dried at ambient temperatures. Samples can be stored and transported without special handling or refrigeration prior to analysis.
VAMS:Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling using a Mitra® microsampling device extracts a fixed volume of approximately 10µl of urine from a larger urine sample that was collected in a cup. Once the fixed 10µl quantity of urine is drawn into the the absorptive tip of the Mitra device, the collected specimen on the device can be easily transported and stored without refrigeration.
Recently the Italian Ministry of Health Technical Committee conducted a test aimed at detecting doping in athletes using microsampling devices with the VAMS® technology. The test determined if the VAMS sample collection system would work equally well with plasma, urine, and oral fluids. The result, according to Principal Investigator Laura Mercolini of the University of Bologna, was that the VAMS sampling devices “worked flawlessly” when compared to conventional sampling analyses.
Advantages of Microsampling Urine Specimen for Athlete Drug Testing
The benefits of urine testing with portable microsampling devices include:
Collection of a fixed volume of urine
Easy storage and transportation
Direct sampling with minimal training required
No after-sampling processes
Sample stability towards enzymatic and bacterial activities
Cost and time savings
Amenable to automation
Conventional methods of fluid testing when the laboratory is busy or off-site require expensive refrigeration and special handling. If mishandled, samples naturally deteriorate causing distorted results. Microsampling arrests the deterioration of the urine sample and provides a dependable result.
Learn more about urine microsampling in our Microsampling Resource Library: