LOS ANGELES – Injections of human growth hormone can improve sprint capacity enough to turn the last-place finisher in the Olympic 100-meter-dash into the gold-medal winner, according to a study released Monday.
Sprint capacity improved for both men and women, according to the study. Combining growth hormone with testosterone injections in men doubled the improvement in sprinting.
“This is helpful in showing those skeptics out there who say it doesn’t help performance that they’re wrong,” said David Howman, director general of the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency, which funded the study.
Howman and other sports medicine experts said the finding should serve as a warning to those U.S. professional sports organizations that have resisted testing for growth hormone – which is banned by athletic organizations – because they say the substance is too difficult to detect.
Though the hormone can’t be detected in urine, it can be found in a blood sample if the test is performed within a few days of use, Howman said. Professional sports leagues should consider unannounced, out-of-competition testing, he said.
“They should wake up and see they should be putting a lot more effort into detection of this substance,” he said.
The report, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also found that growth hormone reduced body fat and increased lean body mass. Though sprint performances improved, measures of strength or power were unaffected, the authors said.