11:41am Saturday 11 July 2020

New test to crack down on growth hormone misuse


Used for the first time at the anti-doping laboratory for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, operated by King’s, the new test was responsible for identifying two powerlifters at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, who tested positive for growth hormones and subsequently received two-year suspensions.

The new method is able to detect misuse of human growth hormones over a number of weeks, compared to previous methods used which only detected use over a shorter time period. 

The test was developed over the last ten years, funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency, with support from UK Anti-Doping. 

It is based on the measurement of two proteins in the blood – insulin-like growth factor-I and the amino terminal pro-peptide of type III collagen.  Both of these proteins, which act as markers of growth hormone use, increase in response to growth hormone.

Professor David Cowan, Head of the Drug Control Centre at King’s and Director of the anti-doping laboratory for the London 2012 Games, said: ‘These findings prove that the years of research have been worthwhile. In partnership with the University of Southampton and Kent University, this has been one of the most complex scientific projects the Drug Control Centre at King’s has been involved in. To be able to carry out this test at this year’s Games is a huge achievement. It represents a big step forward in staying at the forefront of anti-doping science, to help deter drug misuse in sport.’

Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton said: ‘We are pleased to have another effective and reliable means to catch cheats and help deter harmful drug misuse. There has been a tremendous amount of teamwork to develop this test and I am delighted that this dedication has finally succeeded. I would like to thank the World Anti-Doping Agency, US Anti-Doping and UK Anti-Doping for their support and trust in our work.’

Andy Parkinson, UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, added: ‘Continual improvement in testing science is fundamental to the global anti-doping movement, ensuring that sophisticated dopers are caught and those at a tipping point are deterred. I am delighted that this UK developed test, which my team has been closely involved with, was used at the 2012 Paralympic Games to such good effect.’

WADA President John Fahey said: ‘We are confident that it will prove a significant tool in the fight against doping in sport.

‘It will complement the test that has been in use since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the major difference being that the anti-doping community now has a much longer detection window to work with.’

Notes for editors

For further information please contact Emma Reynolds, PR Manager (Health) at King’s College London, on 0207 848 4334 or email [email protected].

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