New test set to join anti-dop­ing arse­nal

But some worry it could stall push by oth­ers for urine test

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A new test that pro­vides a break­through in de­tect­ing hu­man growth hor­mone in blood is ex­pected to be­come avail­able soon and make it more dif­fi­cult for ath­letes to use HGH with­out get­ting caught.

It’s a test some ex­perts con­sider so good, how­ever, it could blunt the push for the urine-based test sought by some in base­ball and foot­ball, pos­si­bly stalling promis­ing re­search that has al­ready cost many thou­sands of dol­lars.

The new test, called a biomark­ers test, scans the blood for chem­i­cals the body pro­duces af­ter HGH use, which are de­tectable for up to two weeks. The test, ex­pected to be avail­able in the com­ing weeks or months, is a com­ple­ment to — or maybe an im­prove­ment over — the cur­rent test, called an iso­form test, which scans blood for syn­thetic HGH.

The iso­form test de­tects syn­thetic HGH in the blood for only about 48 hours af­ter use, mak­ing it eas­ier for users to avoid de­tec­tion.

“Any­time we have more tools, it’s a good thing,” said Larry Bow­ers, the lead sci­en­tist for the U.S. Anti-Dop­ing Agency. “We view the two tests as work­ing to­gether. One doesn’t re­place the other, but it cer­tainly gives us a wider win­dow and a greater op­por­tu­nity for catch­ing peo­ple.”

Fol­low­ing these de­vel­op­ments are sci­en­tists from a Vir­ginia lab called Ceres Nanosciences, where a $65,000 grant from USADA has been used to fund re­search that could some­day lead to a urine test for HGH — the only HGH test Ma­jor League Base­ball play­ers would have to sub­mit to un­der the cur­rent “Joint Drug Agree­ment” be­tween base­ball and the union.

Buoyed by suc­cess from the early phases of their test­ing, which the Ceres sci­en­tists say has de­bunked long-held claims that HGH par­ti­cles can’t be ef­fec­tively cap­tured in urine, Ceres is ap­ply­ing for a grant to take the ex­per­i­ments to the next step.

“To move for­ward af­ter this, we desperately need money,” said Lance Liotta, lead sci­en­tist on the Ceres HGH project. “Fund­ing is crit­i­cal for us. If all the money goes to­ward the blood test that other peo­ple are work­ing on, then they’re missing a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity in urine that they shouldn’t dis­miss off­hand.”

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