Drugs Testing & T

In most sports, at a recreational level, you won’t face drug testing but in strength sports- well powerlifting and weightlifting but not strongman- you can find it happening at any level. It’s been a real barrier to me. I was really concerned that being trans and being on T, for any reason, could be a big can of worms and that put me off competing for a long time. Never mind the fact I wasn’t sure if I would positive on a drug test at all. If I did test positive I’d get a life time ban so it didn’t seem worth the risk.

After a fair bit of digging I found a dependable source that actually talks about testing in sports. It says:

Once the steroid has been metabolised in the nucleus, it is taken from the cell and degraded in the liver. From here it is excreted in the bile or the urine. The actual excretion products vary from one androgen to another and it is these products that are detected in sports drug testing

So, if you take T they will be able to detect it in a urine test. If your levels are in ‘normal male range’ then it wouldn’t be detected on a blood test but any sports testing I’ve ever heard of is urine. The good news is that doesn’t bar you from competing as you can apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).

The main authority on drugs in sports is World Anti-Doping Agency and they have guidance on trans guys who are on testosterone competing in sport. In reading it you need to consider the criteria for TUE:

  • The athlete would experience significant health problems without taking the prohibited substance or method

  • The therapeutic use of the substance would not produce significant enhancement of performance, and

  • There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or method.

So what the document is addressing is how this criteria would apply to trans guys. There is some vagueness in the document and I think this is because WADA don’t see it as their place to say whether or not a particular sports body should allow trans people to compete. But, in my opinion, what WADA are saying is being on T is not a reason to ban trans guys from competing and if you allow trans guys to compete then they should be granted TUE for T.

There is a but, your T levels will likely to be within ‘normal male range’ and you will typically need a doctor signing off on your TUE application. Though I wouldn’t expect that to be a problem for most.