Athletic Cheaters Face New Test

Growth hormone abuse can now be detected with new test over longer period of time

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) After Lance Armstrong gave up his case against the US Anti-Doping Agency, the organization and similar ones around the world now have new, more effective tools to find blood dopers.

A new drug test created by scientists from the UK can measure certain proteins in the blood that signify growth hormone misuse.

"Don't cheat!"

Researchers from the University of Southampton, King's College London, and University of Kent at Canterbury have been working on a test for growth hormone misuse in sports over the last 10 years.

Growth hormone triggers cells to grow and reproduce in the body. Although the body already has it naturally, more can be added to improve athletic performance and aid in recovery from injury.

The test measures the amount of two proteins in the blood, insulin-like growth factor-I and the amino terminal pro-peptide of type III collagen.

The proteins act as markers of growth hormone use, so as growth hormone is used in the body, the number of proteins increases.

The test is able to detect misuse of the hormone over a number of weeks. Previous tests were only able to detect the hormone over a shorter period of time.

Analysts from King's College London used the test for the first time at the anti-doping laboratory for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"To be able to carry out this test at this year's Games is a huge achievement," said David Cowan, director of the Drug Control Centre at King's College London and the anti-doping laboratory for the London Games, in a press release.

"It represents a big step forward in staying at the forefront of anti-doping science to help deter drug misuse in sport."

Using the new test, the International Paralympic Committee identified and suspended two power lifters for violating anti-doping rules on September 8, 2012.

The case is a world first since most of the new testing methods were introduced just before the Olympic games a few months ago.

"We are pleased to have another effective and reliable means to catch cheats and help deter harmful drug misuse," said Richard Holt, PhD, a professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton and a consultant in Diabetes at Southampton General Hospital, in a press release.

"There has been a tremendous amount of team work to develop this test and I am delighted that this dedication has finally succeeded.

Funding for the test comes from the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency with support from UK Anti-Doping. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 19, 2012
Last Updated:
September 19, 2012