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However, since many performance-enhancing drugs including steroids are very close in their structure to the naturally occurring hormones, testing them is not a simple task.
If a person were tested after few hours of taking steroids, he or she would definitely test positive. However, as time passes, the chances of getting tested positive are reduced. Generally, the body is able to get rid of steroids with 14-28 days. Thus it is challenging to demonstrate the use of steroid use after a month.
Moreover, many professional athletes use steroids under the supervision of specialists. It means that they use special techniques, high quality and difficult to detect steroids, and they also use masking strategies. Like the use of diuretics can enhance the clearance of steroids from the body and thus reducing the detection risk.
Steroids are often classified as endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous steroids are very close in structure to those produced by our body like testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and related substances. These substances are generally more difficult to detect after a month, as they and their metabolites are naturally present in the body in small quantities.
Exogenous steroids differ from naturally occurring steroids in chemical structure, and they produce many distinct metabolites not found in our body. Some of the examples of such steroids are Trenbolone, Stanozolol, Nandrolone. These steroids are comparatively easier to detect as even traces of these agents in the body are the proof of steroid use.
For years, the urine test has remained the gold standard for testing the use of steroids, as urine samples are easier to get. Urine tests are in extensive use since the 1970s, and they have improved a lot. Modern tests can detect even traces of steroids in the urine.
However, still, these tests are far from perfect. If a person has used naturally occurring steroid like testosterone, detecting it after a month is much more difficult in comparison to identifying synthetic steroids like Trenbolone.
Testosterone injection will produce metabolites that are very similar to naturally occurring metabolites in all the people. There is no way to tell if that metabolite came from testosterone injection or is a by-product of natural testosterone produced by testicles.
However, synthetic steroids produce by-products that should not be in our body. It means that even a trace of these metabolites is proof of steroid use.
Further, researchers are improving techniques like testing for T/E ratio in urine. Here T stands for testosterone and E means epitestosterone glucuronides. Those who use testosterone may have higher T/E ratio. In healthy individuals, it is rarely above the value of 2.0. Thus if the test shows the value of 6.0 or above, it is confirmed usage of testosterone.
Further, it is essential to know that testing agencies look for indirect evidence too. They also test urine for the use of other drugs that help mask steroid abuse. That is why diuretic like Furosemide is also banned.
Researchers are also developing more sensitive and specific tests. They are studying the use of hair test for prolonged steroid use, though it is still not very sensitive or accurate. Similarly, carbon isotope ratio test is in development.
In conclusion, it can be said that very few people are tested positive if the urine test is done one month after the last dose of any kind of steroid. However, many new tests are under development, and things may change in the near future.