Hair follicle test for steroids and other drugs
Use or abuse of steroids is on the rise. So various sports bodies are now stricter then they were a few decades back. Athletes are now subject to rigorous testing, to check usage of drugs. At the same time, doping is also becoming more complex. Athletes use multiple strategies to clear their bodies from steroids and similar drugs before the competition.
Classically, body fluids were used to test for steroids and other drugs. When we take steroids or medications, traces of these drugs and their metabolites remain in body fluids for a few weeks. Thus most traditional test involves checking blood and urine for steroids and other similar drugs.
It will not be wrong to say that demonstrating the use of steroids is not easy. Particularly, if a person has discontinued the use of steroids a few months before the competition. Our body is quite efficient in removing alien substances or excess of hormones.
However, hair differs from body fluids. They grow quite slowly. Though hair would be less sensitive than a blood test for testing short-term drug use, they may be better for testing the chronic or long-term use of drugs. Other benefits of hair are that samples are easy to get and the procedure is non-invasive.
Blood or urine test can only tell about drug usage for the last few weeks or a month. For hair test, the so-called window for drug testing is much longer. It can give information about drugs used during the last few months or even years.
However, hair follicle test, unlike blood or urine test, is regarded as less sensitive. Further, many think that specific kind of cosmetic procedures may give a false positive test for drugs. It is perhaps the reason that the hair follicle test is not accepted by the Olympic committee yet.
It is a matter of time before non-body fluids tests like hair follicle tests become accurate enough. In the near future, such checks would be accepted by most of the sports bodies.
Another critical question is that for what drugs hair follicle test is useful. Well, research shows that it can help to identify the use of most of the known drugs.
Few studies compare the use of blood or urine test to hair follicle test. In one of the studies, hair follicle test could effectively detect ephedrine, salbutamol, clenbuterol, nandrolone, stanozolol, methenolone, testosterone enanthate, and testosterone cypionate.
Unlike blood or urine test, hair follicle test indicates prolonged or multiple exposures to the drugs.
In conclusion, it can be said that the use of steroids is increasing. Detecting newer steroids is becoming complex. Moreover, most users of steroids use other drugs to mask the use of anabolic drugs. At the same time, drug detection methods are also evolving.
In recent years, researchers are paying more attention to non-body fluids. As testing drugs in hair or even nails, may provide richer information. Blood or urine test is not much accurate after a month of discontinuation of drug use. However, in the case of hair things are entirely different. Drugs remain accumulated in hair follicle for months or even years. It is a matter of time when these tests would become accurate enough and would be accepted widely.