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WADA says it has effective test for human growth hormone

WADA says it has effective test for human growth hormone

An "effective" test for detecting human growth hormone will be in place for the Beijing Olympics, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday.
"By the Olympic Games there will be a capacity to detect HGH," WADA president John Fahey said. "There is no doubt that there is an effective test."
HGH is considered one of the most widely abused performance-enhancing drugs in sports, and experts say athletes have been able to use the subtance with little fear of being caught.
Fahey said traces of the drug could also be frozen and stored in samples for up to eight years, meaning users could still be caught and lose their medals years later.
"Scientists will say very clearly that the storage of plasma is capable of being tested effectively eight years," Fahey said. "It is scientifically sound."
So far, HGH has been extremely hard to detect, partly because it clears the system very quickly. A test was used at the 2004 Athens and 2006 Turin Olympics but yielded no positives because athletes using it would have stopped in time to make sure it cleared the system beforehand. The latest development should allow for more routine testing out of competition.
"We know people have been taking human growth hormone with impunity and have been for 20 years," WADA director general David Howman said.
He said the test would be able to catch cheats within a window of "more than 48 hours."
Like Howman, Fahey refused to give details, saying drug cheats needed to be left in the dark.
Fahey did say he was very confident about the tests, arguing they would withstand any legal challenge.
"We all know these things end up in court more often than not," he said. "It's got to withstand the legal challenge as well. No reason to believe that all of that won't be in place and that there will be a capacity to test at the Beijing Olympics."
HGH is at the center of the U.S. baseball scandal in the wake of the Mitchell Report on doping.
After years of difficulties in finding a foolproof test, WADA also faced delays in the industrial production of HGH testing kits. A company that produced antibodies has been taken over and the program terminated.
"There was a hiccup," Fahey said.
Howman, however, is convinced the kits will be ready in time for Beijing.
"Once the kit has been scientifically validated it has to go to Beijing and people in Beijing have to be trained to use it," he said.
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Associated Press writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.