Monday, June 2, 2008

Is Drug Testing DOA?

It is possible. After all, there is one huge problem in the drug testing procedure - you cannot test for Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Simon Hart at the Telegraph in the UK explains:

The introduction of random drug-testing was seen as a way of silencing the whispers about drug use in the sport, but now it has emerged that when the system goes live on July 1 the golfing authorities will not even be testing for HGH, despite evidence that it is one of the most widely abused performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

The omission opens the door for potential cheats to avoid steroids but to take the hormone without fear of being caught. Although HGH appears on golf's list of banned substances, both the European and PGA Tours have confirmed that players will only be required to submit urine samples. However, HGH can be detected only by taking blood samples.

"At this time the policy will involve only the collection of urine samples," European Tour spokesman Mitchell Platts said. "Blood sampling may or may not be added at a later date."

HGH could theoretically give players a physical edge because it enables people to train harder and for longer and to recover more quickly. With so much emphasis in the modern game on power and length, it is easy to see how some players might be tempted.

The admission that HGH will be omitted from the testing threatens to undermine the credibility of the new system. When Player made his allegations, he named HGH specifically as a drug he had heard was being used by at least 10 top golfers.

Bingo. Beta blockers and HGH are the two drugs that players admit could help them, while simultaneously shunning the notion of drug testing because they want to focus on steroids. Why even test if you can't test for everything that you can detect?

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