Athletes on growth hormone sprint faster: Study

Sydney: Australian scientists said Tuesday they have shown for the first time that athletes who use a banned growth hormone can sprint faster but the substance did not improve strength, power or endurance.

Using human growth hormone (hGH) can improve an athlete`s sprint speed by 4.0 to 5.0 per cent -- potentially turning the last-place into a gold medallist in an Olympic track event, the study found.

"A 4.0 per cent improvement over a 10-second period is 0.4 seconds which is a huge time interval," Professor Ken Ho, lead researcher at Sydney`s Garvan Institute of Medical
Research, told reporters.

Ho said the study is the first scientific research showing improved physical function from using hGH, a naturally occurring hormone which is important for growth and metabolism
and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The substance is thought to be widely abused by elite athletes who believe that injecting themselves with the growth hormone results in bigger muscles and therefore increases
strength, power and endurance.

While the new findings justify the WADA ban, using growth hormone injections may not improve performance in all areas, Ho said.

"The advantage is really in the type of sporting event," said Ho, who is also chairman of the Department of Endocrinology at Sydney`s St Vincent`s Hospital.

"I don`t think it would help them if they were a rower or a weightlifter. But it would certainly help them if they were a sprinter."


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