According to the BBC, the chemists at the University of Texas in Arlington claim that the method is inexpensive and works with existing equipment, adding that if validated, the test would significantly extend the time in which cheating athletes could be caught.
The scientists believe that they have developed a method, called Paired Ion Electrospray Ionisation (PIESI) that builds on existing mass spectrometry techniques to detect these extremely small metabolites and uses a chemical agent to bind to the minute pieces of steroid or amphetamine and make them more visible to the detector.
Lead researcher Dr Daniel Armstrong said that they have found that the new method is 10-1,000 times more sensitive than anything else recorded, adding that the system was able to detect steroids, stimulants, alcohol and depressants in laboratory tests.
Most testing for doping products uses a long-established technique called mass spectrometry, which involves zapping urine samples with a beam of electrons that turns the atoms into charged particles that travel through the spectrometer where they are weighed by a magnetic field.
The new detection method would radically alter the detection window in which an athlete could be caught after taking these drugs, although the researchers said that it would not work for blood doping nor would it detect human growth hormone.