ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 16 S18.1

Indirect evidence suggesting hormone abuse: can it be proof of doping in sports?

Anthony C Hackney


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Men and women who compete in sporting events at the international level perform a tremendous volume of exercise training. This training is necessary to promote the high level of adaptations in the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems which are required in order to improve human performance. The incentives to perform such rigorous and demanding exercise training, and compete well in sporting activities, are substantial. An Olympic medal can result in large financial rewards to an athlete and allow for opportunities to gain even further remuneration. Regrettably, such ‘high-stakes’ incentives can entice some athletes to seek unethical and illegal means of improving their performance. The continuing high-profile occurrences of doping (i.e., hormonal abuse) in sports throughout the last few decades only underscore how persuasive such ‘enhancement’ can be to athletes. The current prevalence of doping in sports is an issue of debate, but it may be on the rise in athletes throughout the world (i.e., both professionals and amateurs who compete at international levels as well as the lower ranks of club sports). However, the ability to chemically screen for doping of all athletes is logistically unfeasible. Thus the question of whether ‘indirect evidence’ of doping can accurately and reliably suggest the existence of abuses has been raised by sports governing bodies. This presentation will address this question and also whether indirect evidence may be an effective means to screen/detect for doping. This presentation will be particularly relevant to clinicians who have opportunities to encounter athletes in their medical practices.

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