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Doping: The growth hormone effective in sprinters

Growth hormone can improve the performance of sprinters by 4 to 5%, or four tenths on a race of ten seconds
Growth hormone can improve the performance of sprinters by 4 to 5%, or four tenths on a race of ten seconds

A study demonstrated for the first time that growth hormone can improve the performance of sprinters by 4 to 5%, or four tenths on a race of ten seconds. "This significant improvement is sufficient to convert the last of the athletes who won the Olympic gold medal," said Ken Ho, an author of the study, research director at the Garven Institute of Medical Research in Sydney (Australia).

But growth hormone is still difficult to detect during doping controls and few athletes have tested positive for this product.

This work was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which, despite the inclusion of growth hormone on the banned list, suspected use among elite athletes.

The Australian team has performed a double-blind controlled study in 96 amateur athletes (63 men and 33 women), mean age 27 years. They were fed for 8 weeks of growth hormone or placebo for women and growth hormone, testosterone, a combination of both or a placebo for men.

Taking products, growth hormone, testosterone, in particular, induces an increase in lean body mass, decreased body fat and increased muscle mass. The effect was even more significant when the two drugs were combined. In terms of performance, growth hormone had no effect on endurance, strength or power athletes.

Only anaerobic capacity (important for short and intense efforts) were better, an effect that disappeared six weeks after stopping treatment. According to Professor Ho, this product does probably not increase performance in all disciplines: "I do not think it can help a rower or a weightlifter," he says in the medical journal.

However, running or swimming might be affected. The researcher pointed out that the doses used in the study were well below what can be practiced among elite athletes. He said that higher doses and administered for longer may also improve aerobic capacity and thus the strength and power.


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