Sarah Dry, MD
Sarah M. Dry, MD - Chair, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

March 2024 - UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory Updates

The UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory (OAL) is one of the world’s largest World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited sports drug-testing facilities. As one of the leading institutions in the field of athletic antidoping, OAL is one of two laboratories in the U.S. accredited by WADA. The laboratory analyzes an estimated 40,000 urine specimens per year for traces of banned substances intended to give athletes an unfair edge in competition. The lab performs drug testing for national and international sports organizations, including the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and has provided testing services for major sporting events such as the 1994 World Soccer Cup and three Olympic Games.

UCLA OAL has been a leader in research activities directed towards enhancing methods to detect doping in sports. UCLA OAL has contributed to the findings of techniques and substances that currently influence the fight against doping in sports:

  • In 1990 UCLA OAL and others conducted research that resulted in the development of a gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) method to detect exogenous testosterone administration. Adaptations of this technique are currently utilized to detect a variety of steroids in urine specimens.
  • In 2000 the laboratory identified trace-contamination of an over-the-counter supplement with an anabolic steroid and demonstrated the amount present could result in positive urine test results.
  • In 2002 the laboratory identified norbolethone, a steroid that had never been marketed, in an athlete’s urine.
  • In 2004 the laboratory published its findings regarding the isolation of tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), a steroid previously unknown in literature.
  • In 2009 the laboratory became one of the first among WADA-laboratories to transition to high-throughput testing utilizing 96-well plate format demonstrating that such an approach remained both robust and highly-sensitive.
  • In 2018 the laboratory published findings on low-dose ethanol administration effect on the urinary testosterone to epitestosterone ratio by GC-MS/MS as well as urine reference intervals for human chorionic gonadotrophin utilizing a LC-MS/MS based approach.
  • In 2019 the laboratory published it findings on the urinary concentration of the AMPK-activator AICAR in an athlete population as well as the utility of isotopically labeled boldenone as a quality control marker for efficiency of chemical derivative formation.
  • In 2021 the laboratory published methodology allowing assessment of urinary cobalt by LC-MS/MS technology available in house to all WADA-accredited laboratories where previously such analysis required ICP-MS.
  • In 2023 the laboratory published its findings concerning first time detection of the unapproved selective androgen receptor modulator YK-11 in an athlete’s urine.
UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory Team

Back row (left to right): Elise Parsaee, Yan Xu, Ronald Gonzalez, Brian Ahrens, Francis Regacho, Samantha Adams, Mustafa Cittan, Nurali Avliyakulov, Brian Bishop, Timofei Sobolevskii

Front row (left to right): Shirley Taam, Monika Abeywardena, Yulia Kucherova, Fereshteh Delshad, Dr. Dry, Roya Kashanpour, Christina Zaragoza, Tatiana Sergeeva, Lorna Reyes, Maria Gomez

Sarah M. Dry, MD
Professor & Chair, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine