WADA expects breakthrough to catch HGH dopers

FILE - This is a  Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, file photo of a worker leaves after checking ice conditions at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where the figure skating and short track speed skiing will take place, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics begin Feb. 7th. You'd have to be a dope to try to get away with doping at the Sochi Olympics. That's the picture painted by international Olympic and anti-doping officials as they implement the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history.Using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk, authorities are focusing their efforts on weeding out drug cheats through rigorous pre-games and pre-competition tests.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - This is a Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, file photo of a worker leaves after checking ice conditions at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where the figure skating and short track speed skiing will take place, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics begin Feb. 7th. You'd have to be a dope to try to get away with doping at the Sochi Olympics. That's the picture painted by international Olympic and anti-doping officials as they implement the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history.Using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk, authorities are focusing their efforts on weeding out drug cheats through rigorous pre-games and pre-competition tests. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) – The World Anti-Doping Agency expects a breakthrough within weeks to catch athletes who use human growth hormone.

Testing for HGH, including samples from Sochi Olympic athletes, should resume after being stalled by an appeal case ruling last year, WADA director-general David Howman said at a pre-games briefing.

Howman said a backlog of samples has built up awaiting publication of peer-viewed results from two research projects involving 20,000 samples.

“We anticipate that in the next few weeks the publication will be accepted and therefore the test can be undertaken,” Howman said.

Efforts to catch HGH users have been hampered by a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling last March.

Two-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion Andrus Veerpalu managed to get his three-year doping ban overturned on a statistical technicality.

A CAS panel requested additional proof of accurate HGH analysis after saying that Veerpalu probably had used HGH.

Still, it upheld the Estonian’s appeal against the International Ski Federation sanction because statistical parameters for the test results could produce false positives.

The fresh research has largely confirmed the original statistics.

“Two independent teams reached a very similar conclusion in terms of what the decision limits should be, and they are very close to what was previously written and looked at in the Veerpalu case,” Howman said.

Veerpalu, now 42, retired from racing after his January 2011 positive test but his court victory cleared him to stay in the sport as a coach or official.

Veerpalu is expected in Sochi as part of the coaching team for Kazakhstan cross-country skier Alexey Poltoranin.

Separately, WADA also said it was “totally outrageous” that a Russian scientist reportedly offered to sell a seemingly potent and undetectable new muscle-building drug to undercover journalists.

Howman said the substance, known as full size MGF, has only previously been trialed on animals, and WADA President Craig Reedie said it would be “potentially very dangerous” if athletes took it.

German broadcaster WDR said a scientist at the renowned Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow offered to sell the drug to reporters.

A call to the academy’s main switchboard Wednesday evening went unanswered.

“It’s outrageous that somebody is producing substances like that and passing them on, with the risk that they end up with an athlete without it being peer-reviewed,” Reedie said.

Howman said pharmaceutical companies are developing “many” such substances in the growth factor family of drugs, mainly “for the wellness clinics, the fountains of youth if you like, for older people.”

“Some of them are being developed for good health reasons,” he said. “But these are not yet on the market.”

Athletes are banned from taking such research substances. Asked whether WADA knows whether any athletes have got hold of full size MGF, Howman said: “If we did we would never tell you.”

“It doesn’t come as a surprise to us that the undercover journalists should discover this,” Howman said. “It is a bit shocking that it should happen from a Russian scientist and it is certainly shocking that the substance was only trialed on animals. So for it to be made available by somebody for human use … is totally outrageous.”

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