Codeine influences the serum and urinary profile of endogenous androgens but does not interact with the excretion rate of administered testosterone

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Nov 13, 2017
  • Author: M. Lehtihet, A. Andersson, A. Börjesson, J. Schulze, A. Rane, M. Ericsson, L. Ekström
  • Journal: Drug Testing and Analysis


Today's doping tests involve longitudinal monitoring of urinary steroids including the testosterone glucuronide and epitestosterone glucuronide ratio (T/E) in an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP). The aim of this study was to investigate the possible influence of short‐term use of codeine on the urinary excretion of androgen metabolites included in the steroidal module of the passport prior to and after the co‐administration with testosterone. The study was designed as an open study with the subjects being their own control. Fifteen healthy male volunteers received therapeutic doses of codeine (Kodein Meda) for 6 days. On Day 3, 500 mg or 125 mg of testosterone enanthate (Testoviron®‐Depot) was administered. Spot urine samples were collected for 17 days, and blood samples were collected at baseline, 3, 6, and 14 days after codeine intake. The circulatory concentration of total testosterone decreased significantly by 20% after 3 days' use of codeine (p = 0.0002) and an atypical ABP result was noted in one of the subjects. On the other hand, the concomitant use of codeine and testosterone did not affect the elevated urinary T/E ratio. In 75% of the individuals, the concentration of urinary morphine (a metabolite of codeine) was above the decision limit for morphine. One of the participants displayed a morphine/codeine ratio of 1.7 after codeine treatment, indicative of morphine abuse. In conclusion, our study shows that codeine interferes with the endogenous testosterone concentration. As a result, the urinary steroid profile may lead to atypical findings in the doping test.

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