WADA Testing for Growth Hormone Within Weeks

According to  the New York Times, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has purchased thousands of doping kits that will be used to screen blood for exogenous human growth hormone (HGH). The top-secret HGH test has been available for some time but WADA only recently found a secret European-based manufacturer capable of producing significant quantities of the blood screening kits (“Agency will increase blood tests for HGH,” April 2).

WADA says the out of competition testing for HGH will begin within weeks The test will be used at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Additionally, a WADA spokesperson says the the HGH screening kits will be used to analyze previously frozen blood samples from athletes.

The kits will allow doping authorities to analyze blood samples that have been frozen from earlier tests, Howman said.

Given WADA’s secrecy regarding the HGH screening kit, very little is known about the efficacy of the doping test. Daniel Rosen, author of Dope: A History of Performance Enhancement in Sports from the Nineteenth Century to Today, writes on his blog about the criteria for a truly effective human growth hormone test.

  • Because most of us produce HGH naturally, the test must be able to effectively distinguish between natural and synthetic HGH. One possible way to do that would be through the use of carbon isotope ratio testing — although there is no guarantee that this technique would be used, or that it is the only method for making the distinction.
  • The amount each individual produces is variable, so the criteria for a positive test must take that variability into account.
  • Most people produce progressively less HGH as they age, so the amount that would be normally present in a 20-year-old will be different than for the same person at age 40, for example.
  • The test should have been thoroughly vetted by peer review, and multiple studies with large enough test groups to draw statistically significant conclusions.

It remains to be seen how effective the HGH test will be. We will most likely learn after the first high profile case puts the new test in the spotlight.

Nutropin Depot - human growth hormone (hGH)
Nutropin Depot – human growth hormone (hGH)

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