Dr. Don H. Kathleen and Efficacy Improving Drug Tests

Developing key drug tests to improve performance

Since the founding of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in 1982 and serving as its director for 25 years, Don H. Kathleen, M.D., has played an important role in the search for new drugs to improve performance and the development of methods for detecting the use of various substances in athletes. His research, both for drug testing and focusing only on new and emerging drugs, was instrumental in creating many of the tests that are currently used to identify drugs that increase efficacy. As noted in the New York Times in 2007, “Some call Dr. Don Kathlin … the father of drug testing in sports.”

In 2004, he and his son, CEO Oliver Kathleen, founded the reputable supplier of additive certification, the BSCG (Prohibited Substance Control Group). Catlins’ expertise is unparalleled and is often used to address the more complex challenges facing anti-doping research. and additional testing. Here, we take a quick look at some of Dr. Catlin’s key advances in PED performance and where more information can be found about them.

Dr. Don Catlin, anti-doping pioneer

Renowned anti-doping pioneer Dr. Don H. Kathleen at his laboratory in Los Angeles in 2008. (Photo from the Catlin Consortium.)

Developed the CIR method to distinguish natural from artificial testosterone

In the late 1990s, Dr. Don Kathlin was the first to develop and propose a carbon isotope ratio, or CIR, test to determine whether testosterone or an anabolic steroid was naturally produced by the body or came from a prohibited substance. This highly accurate test was the first technique capable of detecting synthetic testosterone rather than simply measuring the body’s response to the substance. Dr. Kathleen used an endogenous human reference compound (ERC) such as cholesterol for comparison to help determine the body’s natural carbon structure. The testosterone CIR test was considered revolutionary and proved to be useful and highly reliable; despite the fact that many athletes have shown positive results over the years, the Court of Arbitration for Sport found no fault in this.

Academic publication

Kathlin D.H., Hatton K.K., Starchevich S. Problems of detecting anabolic steroids and testosterone in xenobiotics using urine analysis of athletes. Clinical Chemistry 1997; 43: 1280-1288.

First report on the use of the EPO (Darbepoetin Alfa) form in sports

While observing drug testing at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Dr. Kathleen discovered the use of a form of EPO, or erythropoietin (darbepoetin alfa), for the first time in sports. He used a new test developed by French scientist Dr. Françoise Lasnay ​​to detect this long-lasting form of EPO, a recently approved drug for anemic patients that helps boost red blood cells and endurance, but can lead to serious health consequences such as heart attack and stroke. Three Olympic skiers, including gold medalists Larisa Lazutina from Russia and Johann Mülegg from Spain, were barred from competing and their medals were stripped after they were discovered using the substance in Olympic competitions.

Learn More

For an in-depth look at this story, read the scholarly book Olympic Night Team (Boyds Mills Press, 2008), written for older children by Caroline Hutton, Ph.D., one of the scientists working in the Olympic Laboratory under Dr. Kathlin.

Academic publication

Kathlin D.H., Braidbach A., Elliott S., Glaspie J. Comparison of isoelectric focusing schemes for darbepoetin alfa, recombinant human erythropoietin and endogenous erythropoietin from human urine. Clinical Chemistry 2002. 48: 2057-9. Full PDF text

First announced designer steroid, norboletone

In 2002, Dr. Kathleen first reported the use of a designer anabolic steroid in sports. He first identified norboletone (or norboletone) in an athlete’s urine sample. Norboleton was developed in the 1960s for the treatment of height and weight gain, but was considered harmful and never entered the market. Patrick Arnold and Victor Conte introduced it to athletes through the Bay Area Laboratory (BALCO). Dr. Catlin’s discovery of this substance was a wake-up call that some athletes are abusing designer steroids. Chicago Tribune named Kathleen Sportsman of the Year 2002.

Learn More

For more information on norboletone and Dr. Catlin’s original test, visit the PubChem website at the US National Library of Medicine

Academic publication

Kathleen D.H., Arens B.D., Kucherova Yu. Detection of norboletone, an anabolic steroid that has never been sold, in the urine of athletes. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2002.16: 1273-5.

Second Declared Designer Steroid, THG

In 2003, Dr. Kathleen defined and developed a test for GTG or tetrahydrogestrinone, the second anabolic steroid reported by the developer. This discovery is known to have originated from a sample contained in a used syringe, anonymously delivered to USADA, which was subsequently handed over to Dr. Kathlin for testing. THG was the active ingredient in “The Clear”, a previously “undetectable steroid” created and distributed by BALCO to some of the leading American and British Olympic and professional athletes. Dr. Kathleen commissioned his large team of capable researchers and chemists to find the substance and develop a new test for it, stating that the advances “took all the skills that are presented in this laboratory.” In 2009, Newsweek magazine named Coach Trevor Graham’s decision to send a syringe to USADA as one of the “Top 10 History Changing Decisions” of the decade.

Learn More

To learn more about Dr. Kathleen and the BALCO story, read this 2004 article by Amy Shipley: One Mastermind of Two Steroids, July 29, 2004

Academic publication

Kathlin D.H., Sequera M.H., Arens B.D., Starchevich B., Chang Y.S., Hatton K.K. Tetrahydrogestrinone: detection, synthesis and detection in urine. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2004. 18: 1245-9.

The third famous designer steroid, Madol or DMT

In 2004, Dr. Kathleen identified madol, the third reported anabolic steroid, from the developer. Madol, short for methyandrostenol, also known as DMT or deoxymethyltestosterone (not to be confused with dimethyltryptamine), was the active ingredient in the third generation of Clear, discovered during a 2003 raid on the BALCO lab. Steroid A powerful testosterone derivative that can severely damage the liver and heart was developed in the early 1960s but never hit the market. After being discovered in dietary supplements, DMT became a controlled substance in the United States in 2010.

Learn More

For more on DMT, THG and BALCO, see the news article “Athletics: A New Steroid Designed to Deceive Drug Addicts,” from Reuters, The New Zealand Herald, February 2, 2005

Academic publication

Sequera M.H., Arens B.D., Chang Y.S., Starchevich B., Georgakopoulos S., Kathlin D.H. Another designer steroid: detection, synthesis and detection of “madol” in urine. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2005.19: 781-4.

Several posts on new anabolic steroids

In 2005, Dr. Kathleen discovered five new designer anabolic steroids in nutritional supplements sent to him for testing by the Washington Post . One substance in the Halodrol-50 supplement was very similar to oral turinabol, the main anabolic steroid abused by Olympic athletes in East Germany in the 1960s and 70s. About 800 athletes later reported serious illnesses after taking this steroid called blue beans. Halodrol-50 was discontinued, but Halodrol was released online in 2016.

p. Kathleen also found a new designer steroid, Methasterone, in Superdrol. This discovery has prompted anti-doping authorities to focus on reducing the sale and use of prohormonal supplements, often toxic to the liver. WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) soon added the compound to its list of banned substances in sports, and in 2009 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided in part for selling the compound, which represented the largest law enforcement action in the industry to date. food additives.

Academic publication

Catlin DH. Anabolic steroid. In DeGroot LJ, Jameson JL, ed. Endocrinology Elsevier Saunders 2006; 5th edition: 3265-82. (Book chapter.)

First report from designer stimulant methylhexanamine

In 2006, in another analysis of a dietary supplement at the request of the Washington Post , Dr. Kathleen was the first to identify the designer stimulant methylhexanamine, a potentially deadly amphetamine-like substance. This compound was found in Ergopharm’s Erglean AMP, a product formulated by BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold, who was then awaiting sentencing for his role there. The product was taken off the market, but in 2011, USADA issued an official warning for athletes to avoid the dangerous stimulant in a range of dietary supplements after a series of positive test results. Unlike some problematic supplement ingredients, this compound can often be found on supplement ingredient lists – under the names methylhexanamine, 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), dimethylpentylamine (DMP), 4-methylhexane-2-amine, geranamine and geranium oil extract or stems and leaves.

Learn More

For more information, see the original article by Washington Post “The Chemist’s New Product Contains Hidden Substance” by Amy Shipley, May 8, 2006

USADA Guidelines Caution: Your Supplement May Trigger a Positive Test, June 16, 2011

Many contributions

p. Catlin’s contributions to PED discovery went beyond these remarkable advances. Among other things, he has identified the pharmacokinetics of steroids such as androstenedione (previously sold over the counter) and DHEA, provided analytical advice as part of government action to identify and identify designer drugs such as the aromatase inhibitor 6-OXO and the steroid Tren in products. for supplements, and was able to adapt the test for the potent blood-boosting drug CERA (sold under the brand name Mircera) for horses.

Learn More

For more information on Dr. Don Kathleen and his current work on protecting nutritional supplements, visit the BSCG website at

Note . The term “designer steroid” is defined as a synthetic steroid made by simple chemical modification of another steroid, often an anabolic steroid. The word “developer”, however, can refer to compounds that are either new or reworked and reused as productivity tools. Today, these problematic substances sometimes end up in legally marketed supplements.

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