Athletes Seeking Doping Agents Can Still Find Them Online

FRIDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Unapproved non-steroidal and tissue-selective anabolic drugs called selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are being sold on the Internet as sports doping agents, according to a new report.

Though SARMs offer promise for the treatment of a number of diseases -- including osteoporosis, sarcopenia, benign prostatic hyperplasia and cancer cachexia (a wasting syndrome) -- none of the agents have yet been approved for use in patients, according to background information in the study.

However, some athletes who use doping products believe SARMS offer the performance benefits of traditional anabolic/androgenic steroids, such as testosterone, with fewer side effects. SARMs were banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2008.

In the new study, published online Nov. 19 in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis, researchers in Germany analyzed a product they bought on the Internet, which was delivered in a box labeled as containing face moisturizer and green tea extract. But the product was actually a non-approved arylpropionamide-derived SARM called Andarine, according to the study.

"Major concerns result from these findings," study author Mario Thevis, of the German Sport University Cologne, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "This product with considerable anabolic properties is readily available without sufficient research on its undesirable effects; this is especially significant where uncontrolled dosing is applied and drug impurities with unknown effects are present in considerable amounts as observed in the studied material."

More information

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy has information on anabolic steroids.

SOURCE: Drug Testing and Analysis, news release, Nov. 19, 2009