A UNSW researcher is part of a team that is taking the international sports community one step closer to stamping out drug cheats.
Professor Ken Ho of the Garvan Institute is lead investigator and endocrinologist on a study into the effects and detection of growth hormone doping.
It is the first large-scale scientific study to evaluate the effects of the human growth hormone taken alone or with testosterone - a combination often used by drug cheats. The results of these studies have also helped to develop a reliable doping test.
"We were surprised to find that human growth hormone has no effect on muscle mass and sports performance," says Professor Ho. "However, when taken with testosterone, it does have an effect but cheats who use both drugs are much more easily caught with the promising new tests we have been evaluating."
He says that when growth hormone is taken with testosterone, there is an increase in muscle mass and sprint power.
"But the combined drug regime enhances the sensitivity of our tests and means we can detect sports dopers for weeks after they have stopped taking the banned substances. This has major implications for random drug testing."