Mar 15 2010
Australian sporting authorities are also coping up with the advanced use of performance enhancing drugs in sports. Testing for anabolic steroids has been in place for many years now but it was only last week where the AFL implemented the testing for human growth hormone or HGh. They also include blood testing for third generation red blood cell-producing EPO. This effort was applauded by the Australian Anti-Doping Agency. The agency is in charged of testing athletes during competitions and anytime of the year and conducts urine and blood testing of athletes. The chief executive of ASADA Richard Ings is also optimistic that the league will be able to fund the blood testing for HGH.
On the other hand, NRL is not yet on the same track with AFL. They are still deliberating on the issue because of several factors to be considered in implementing such tests. The league’s NRL spokesman John Brady said that there are plenty of people who say that HGH is not a threat for the rugby league. “Some of our advice is that, by nature of what it does, HGH is going to suit an athlete in AFL more than league because it’s more aerobic. There are others who say it can’t be taken without steroids and if you take it with steroids you’ll test positive anyway,” said Brady.
What may cause NRL to be hesitant in adopting a similar program with AFL is the cost of HGH test. He said that a test for HGH will cost $600 each. Brady said that the league didn’t want to spend a lot on low-risk testing at the expense of higher-risk areas. The ASADA has the same comment. “When AFL says they’ve agreed to testing for these substances, it means that they’ve agreed to fund it. What kind of tests the rugby league chooses to fund or not is entirely up to them. It’s a difficult drug to test for,” said ASADA chief.
Another reason why testing for HGH may not give a reliable result is it occurs naturally in the body. Tony O’Sullivan, an endocrinologist, associate professor from the University of NSW’s St George Clinical School, said that it could be used as an alibi by athletes taking HGH supplements. “The other big problem is that growth hormone is released in a pulsatile way, meaning it bounces up and down in your system. Even if you find a higher level, you don’t know if the person’s just had a pulse of it released naturally by their system or whether they’ve had an injection of it. It’s a bit like EPO, which is also a natural hormone,” he said.
Experts also added that human growth hormone clears the body within a day or two so it would be very difficult for the anti-doping authorities to really catch the cheaters.
HGH is popular as an anti-ageing drug. It can only be purchased with a prescription just like anabolic steroids. However, HGH is widely available in black market. It is a drug which is common in gyms and even in pubs said Ryan Laos, a bodybuilder who adheres to natural bodybuilding. He criticized Australian sports leagues for not responding to the problem immediately. “It would be totally stupid to think that there aren’t people in elite sports who have been using hGH for many years to gain an advantage,” he said.
Laos also said that even if HGH costs higher than anabolic steroids, there are still many athletes using it. He said he knew some people using HGH that spent about 10 times as much as they would on anabolic steroids. “In other sports there might be people earning a lot of money and they can afford it and they can get away with it,” Laos said.
There are many benefits associated with the use of HGH. Some of which are improved brain function, strengthened tissue, skin rejuvenation, increased energy, brightened mood, muscle growth, improved libido, improved lung function, immune system support and improved production of individual muscle cells. Some athletes use HGH with anabolic steroids to achieve maximum benefits. However, there were also reports of side effects for taking too much HGH. An increase risk in getting heart problems, diabetes, acromegaly and many others are possible complications for taking HGH.