Researchers in Cologne, Germany have developed a test for the 'fitness in a pill' drug called AICAR, Deutschlandfunk.de reported today.
The substance was linked to cycling in 2012 when a Colombian doctor, Alberto Beltrán Niño, who worked with teams including the former Xacobeo-Galicia squad, was arrested in Madrid with AICAR and another experimental drug TB-500 in his possession.
AICAR is used to decrease body fat and was intended to reverse diseases such as type 2 diabetes, but a side-effect of the drug was increase endurance, at least in laboratory animals.
The UCI has already sent samples from the Tour de France and other races to Cologne to be tested for the substance, a UCI spokesman confirmed to Cyclingnews.
Mario Thevis, a professor from the Cologne Center for Preventive Doping Research, developed the analysis, which uses carbon isotope ratios to distinguish synthetic AICAR from substances found naturally in the body, much like the WADA-approved test for synthetic testosterone.
"In nature there are two versions of the carbon. There is carbon 12 with a mass of 12, and carbon with a mass of 13, and the ratio reflects exactly that of the carbon we ingest in food," Thevis explained. "If you produce a synthetic product, this ratio, the signature of the carbon, is different and that can be distinguished with the help of modern analytical methods."
Because there is already an existing test approved by WADA for testosterone, it stands to reason that the AICAR version of the test would be easily implemented in WADA-approved laboratories.