Ethanol and T/E Tests
The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on the Urinary Testosterone / Epitestosterone Ratio
By Dr Simon Davis B.Sc., Ph.D.
Intoxicating beverages contain a number of different forms of alcohol, the major constituent of which is ethanol. When a beverage is consumed the ethanol content passes through the stomach wall and digestive tract into the blood stream. Once the ethanol enters circulation it begins to alter the bodies’ biochemistry. One such reaction is to differentially increase the rates of testosterone (T) and epitestosterone (E) metabolism. The overall effect of this reaction is to increase the ratio of T to E excreted in the urine.
It has been reported that ethanol consumption can increase urinary T/E ratios by 30% - 277% in healthy individuals. Observed changes in plasma T/E ratios can occur with the consumption of less than 2 pints of lager. The ingestion of ethanol by an individual will increase the T/E ratio observed in a urine sample.
It follows that if the effect of ethanol on T/E ratios is calculated relative to urinary E concentrations, it can be seen that increases in the ratio are exponential as E concentrations decrease. Individuals with naturally low E concentrations could, therefore, experience increases in T/E ratios of ? 940% greater than increases experienced in an individual with normal E concentrations. Calculations estimate that in individuals with low urinary E concentration, ratios of 17 to 1 or higher could have resulted from ethanol consumption without any administration of exogenous T.
The current T/E ratio test as performed by Kings College Laboratory and approved by the UK Sports, the IWF and IOC cannot discriminate between a 13 to 1 T/E ratio resulting from ethanol ingestion or a 13 to 1 ratio resulting from endogenous T administration.