Otago University develops quicker, more efficient drug test to catch cheating athletes

Scientists at Otago University have developed a test that can detect any anabolic steroid present in a blood or urine sample - meaning identifying drug cheats in sport may be about to become a bit easier.

Current tests for anabolic steroids only catch drug cheats using recognised banned substances but Kiwi scientists are developing a test that is wider-reaching.

Physiology Professor Alison Heather says the new test will detect "hundreds" of anabolic steroids simultaneously.

"So once we identify a positive that will red flag that particular sample for further investigative testing," she told Newshub. 

Results will be posted in three to four hours rather than to two to three days. 

The Otago University team has partnered with startup InsituGen and plans to roll the testing out commercially.

"The plan is we are going to commence commercial trials with equine laboratories in Australia and the UK sometime in October," said chief executive of InsituGen Ojas Mahapatra. 

"All things going well in the next six months we should be able to roll out the product in quarter two  of next year."

If it passes the test it could be used to drug test athletes.

The racing integrity unit is the first to express interest in the outcome of the commercial trials.

Its general manager Mike Godber says it has "potential".

"Time will tell because it is a new product as to how useful and the extent to which it can be used by the industry but on the face of it it has some potential."

Potential which was developed in a laboratory in Dunedin that might one day be commonplace in the world of sports drug testing.