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11.09.2008


Designer steroids by kitchen chemistry

"These substances have never been tested not on humans and not on animals," warns organic chemist Aede de Groot in this month's issue of the Dutch language Mens & Molecule, the publication of the Flemish association of chemists. "Ultimately the athlete who takes these products is the guinea pig. Or if he's unlucky, the dupe."

De Groot, a valued ergo-log worker, is of course referring to designer steroids. You find them among supplements and sports food, and they are in circulation in the sports world.

The Balco affair has made it clear that producing effective androgens that don't show up in doping tests and are not even registered is pretty simple. The supplements wizard Pat Arnold made the now world famous THG in one single chemical step from gestrinone, a non-anabolic gynecological hormone.

Designer steroids by kitchen chemistry

Arnold made THG using a technique that is in principle very simple. All he did was expose his raw material to hydrogen and a catalyst. Any chemist who knows what's he's doing can perform the reaction in his own kitchen, in a manner of speaking.

Arnold used the same trick to make norbolethone from norgestrel, another steroid that gynecologists prescribe.

Designer steroids by kitchen chemistry

"There are lots more apparently innocent steroids on sale that you can transform in one step into a designer steroid," says De Groot. "Take tibolone for example: like gestrinone, tibolone has no muscle building effect. But a similar catalytic reaction as the one Arnold used to convert gestrinone into THG transforms tibolone into the steroid 17alpha-ethyl, 7alpha-methyl, 5(10)-estrene-3-one. After that, it's a piece of cake to introduce two double bonds, and voila, you have the totally unknown 17-alpha-ethyl-7-alpha-methyl-4,9,11-estratriene-3-one."

Designer steroids by kitchen chemistry
Tibolone is the active ingredient in Livial, which is used for HRT.

Below is an illustration of the reaction that De Groot describes. The end product, the steroid shown in the box, is not described anywhere in the scientific literature. Nevertheless it is probably incredibly strong. It has a trenbolone skeleton, and a methyl spike on C7. Like THG, it is in fact a porcupine anabolic steroid and what's more, it's orally available.

Designer steroids by kitchen chemistry

"There are more of these relatively simple tricks for transforming steroids," says De Groot in Mens & Molecule. "If you have a chemistry background, all sorts of possibilities will come to mind."

The interview with De Groot was published on 16 August 2008 in C2W #15. Doping hunters will not be pleased, because the chemist makes them look pretty foolish. The WADA has also looked into whether they could make designer steroids using simple chemistry, but their attempts were not fruitful.

Sources:
Mens & Molecule #7 11 September 2008. [Offline]