Study may open new light on food contamination with clenbuterol
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A current study on the body’s elimination of small doses of clenbuterol may open new perspectives on identifying non-intentional doping after oral ingestion of contaminated food.

Scientists from the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), the Centre for Leisure, Sport and Tourism Research and Development (CLTS, Nicosia, Cyprus) and the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (Lausanne, Switzerland), announced today the completion of the first stage of a study addressing the still pending matter of food contamination with clenbuterol.

Several countries have been identified where such contamination is frequently found, posing numerous practical, procedural and legal problems for anti-doping organisations and athletes alike. WADA had been informed beforehand about the study and received the approved research protocol.

The study is designed in such way that it simulates the ingestion of food contaminated with clenbuterol, where rather small amounts of the substance enter the body and are then distributed, degraded and eliminated via different routes. All these processes, including the speed in which they take place (known as the pharmacokinetics of a substance) need to be properly understood in order to evaluate the effect of different doses of clenbuterol on the elimination process from an athlete’s body.

The findings could help anti-doping organisations to better judge an athlete’s claim to be a victim of non-intentional doping following the ingestion of food contaminated with clenbuterol.

The first stage of the study focused on the pharmacokinetics of three different doses of clenbuterol, as it is found with the occasional ingestion of meat containing clenbuterol in various amounts. It will be followed by the second stage, where the potential cumulative effect of the repeated ingestion of small doses of clenbuterol will be investigated. This corresponds to the situation of an athlete eating clenbuterol-contamined food repeatedly during a longer period. It is expected that the results of this study will be available in early 2012. 

The research team is composed of Drs Michael Petrou (CLTS), Martial Saugy and Norbert Baume (Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses) and Prof. Jiri Dvorak (F-MARC). The study is being conducted by the CLTS at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus and the collected urine and blood samples will be analysed at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses. The study is approved by both the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee and the Cyprus Drug Council and is sponsored by FIFA.