Exercise, science and designer doping: traditional and emerging trends

M.R. Graham, B. Davies, Fergal Grace, Julien Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The list of doping agents is enormous, and for the majority, any beneficial sporting effect is contentious. WADA and UK Anti-Doping have difficulty detecting the peptide hormones, Growth Hormone (GH), insulin and Erythropoietin (Epo), because they require blood analysis. Only in the last two years has an athlete been convicted of taking GH, which is still being used as a doping agent because the window for detection is so brief. This positive test was not contested, which suggests that science may be winning the war on drugs. Athletes appear to have ceased taking insulin, because of its life-threatening acute effects, and in recent years no adverse analytical findings have been reported for this drug.

“Older” doping agents, which are known to enhance performance in sport, include testosterone and their derivatives, anabolic steroids.

The pharmaceutical industry continues to manufacture new medicines, pushing back the boundaries in combating wasting disease states and the ageing process, but is inadvertently producing the latest generation of doping agents. This will challenge anti-doping scientists.

WADA’s banned list also includes insulin-like growth factor-1, fibroblast growth factors, hepatocyte growth factor, mechano growth factors, platelet-derived growth factor, vascular-endothelial growth factor which may promote muscle, tendon or ligament development, vascularisation, energy utilisation, regenerative capacity and fibre type. Athletes will use whatever they believe works, but can only use what is available. Internet companies offer these anabolic products that but their veracity cannot be proven.

There are questions that need to be answered? Are these products available to athletes, do they enhance performance, are athletes really taking them and are they so difficult to detect. The internet has made them available to anyone with a credit card and it appears that if they are cycled correctly, unless an athlete is caught in possession of them, the opportunity of proving a case of doping is almost impossible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1000113
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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