The importance of reference materials in doping-control analysis
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- Mackay, L.G. & Kazlauskas, R. Anal Bioanal Chem (2011) 401: 483. doi:10.1007/s00216-011-5049-5
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Currently a large range of pure substance reference materials are available for calibration of doping-control methods. These materials enable traceability to the International System of Units (SI) for the results generated by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratories. Only a small number of prohibited substances have threshold limits for which quantification is highly important. For these analytes only the highest quality reference materials that are available should be used. Many prohibited substances have no threshold limits and reference materials provide essential identity confirmation. For these reference materials the correct identity is critical and the methods used to assess identity in these cases should be critically evaluated. There is still a lack of certified matrix reference materials to support many aspects of doping analysis. However, in key areas a range of urine matrix materials have been produced for substances with threshold limits, for example 19-norandrosterone and testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio. These matrix-certified reference materials (CRMs) are an excellent independent means of checking method recovery and bias and will typically be used in method validation and then regularly as quality-control checks. They can be particularly important in the analysis of samples close to threshold limits, in which measurement accuracy becomes critical. Some reference materials for isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) analysis are available and a matrix material certified for steroid delta values is currently under production. In other new areas, for example the Athlete Biological Passport, peptide hormone testing, designer steroids, and gene doping, reference material needs still need to be thoroughly assessed and prioritised.