HGH test leads to first suspension of pro athlete

BY foxsports • February 23, 2010

Assertions by Major League Baseball that there is no reliable test for human growth hormone may have been reduced to a myth Monday.

Anti-doping agency officials on both sides of the Atlantic touted the case of a British rugby player as proof that HGH can be detected through blood testing. Terry Newton, who was tested in November, did not contest the result and was banned from the sport for two years by the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency, The Times of London reported.

The Wakefield Wildcats, his rugby club voided the remainder of Newton's two-year contract.

Newton, 31, is believed to be the first pro athlete tripped up by a blood test aimed at detecting HGH, which baseball has banned since 2005 but has not been the subject of testing.

The latest development was lauded by Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

"All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn't put it in place if it wasn't forensically sound and reliable." Tygart told the New York Daily News. "Particularly in (Newton's) case, it's proof positive the test works."

Newton was targeted for an offseason test based on what UKAD executive Andy Parkinson described as “intelligence” indicating there was cause for suspicion.

“There has been a feeling that you can take growth hormone with impunity,” Parkinson said. “This shows this is no longer the case. We have heard from others that growth hormone is being abused by athletes, but, until now, investigations have been of the non-analytical type. Now there is a test, so our message to athletes is to think twice about using it.”

Drugs testers said HGH use had been difficult to pin down because it leaves the system quickly after administration, similar to the challenge they faced before learning to screen successfully for erythropoietin (EPO), the blood agent.

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