Potential benefits of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) to athletes

Michael R. Graham, Julien S. Baker, Peter Evans, David Hullin, Non-Eleri Thomas, Bruce Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Athletes have enjoyed almost a thirty year amnesty of rhGH abuse, which they consider has contributed to the winning of medals and the breaking of world records. Such a reprieve is almost at an end, since WADA have identified a method to detect rhGH abuse. Or have they?

The anecdotal word “on the street” is that rhGH is still undetectable and athletes believe that the benefits, at the dosages they administer, far outweigh the risks!

Scientists are aware that in a hormone deficiency condition, replacement can halt and in certain situations reverse some of the adverse effects. Growth hormone deficiency can lead to a loss of skeletal muscle mass and an increase in abdomino-visceral obesity, which is reversed on replacement with rhGH.

Since the availability of GH, athletes have been trying to extrapolate these effects from the deficiency state to the healthy corpus and increase their sporting prowess.

Past confessions from athletes, such as Ben Johnson, Kelly White, Tim Montgomery, Marion Jones and currently Dwain Chambers have demonstrated that they are prepared to tread the very fine lines that separate the “men from the boys”. Rewards are so great, that anonymous surveys have identified that athletes will risk ill health, if they believe they can cheat, win and not get caught.

The question that still needs to be answered is, “does growth hormone enhance performance”?

Recent research suggests that it could. There is also a suspicion that in “cycled” low supraphysiological doses, it is no where near as harmful as WADA claim it to be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-307
Number of pages8
JournalGrowth Hormone & IGF Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • athletes
  • cheating
  • doping
  • hormone deficiency
  • rhGH
  • V'O2max


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