FURTHER ON STEROIDS
Forbes Carlile, Personal communication, (February 20, 1995).
This information is included in a report compiled by Forbes Carlile after a visit and discussion with Ray Kazlauskas, Chief Chemist, Australian Government Analytical Laboratory, Pymble, NSW (IOC accredited).
The most recent development in steroids involves the use of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is a naturally occurring steroid that is some 10 times more powerful than the more commonly used steroids. It is water soluble and traces quickly disappear from the urine.
The drug was manufactured in France and has been used in a form placed under the tongue and more recently (last two years) as a cream or ointment applied to the skin.
Clearance times from urine can be calculated and are described in the scientific literature.
It would be relatively easy, once the raw product has been obtained, to mix it in a carrier ready for application. This may have to be applied daily to allow significant absorption. Thus, the substance could be included in creams and potions and used unknowingly by others (e.g., coaches and massage therapists as well as athletes).
The effects of any steroid use lasts for a considerable number of years (at least two years would be needed for benefits to be lost). However, when used during the adolescent growth spurt, the effects would be permanent and enhanced over natural growth patterns even though the detectable signs of drug use eventually may no longer exist. Permanence and enhancement effects are some of the reasons why steroids are administered in rehabilitative therapy for skeletal problems. The use of steroids in adolescence would mean that an athlete has a lasting advantage gained by unfair means (cheating).
The cost in Europe of the raw hormone may not be particularly expensive.
Testing for DHT, as for all steroids, and the determination of positive use is not easy, nor are results completely reliable. The main problem for assessment is the establishment of what is the "normal" concentration presence of the hormone for each individual. Base levels are determined partly by sex, age, and race. Testers have to look into as many circumstances as possible surrounding the situation before announcing from the analysis of two sealed samples that IN ALL PROBABILITY the athlete exhibited illegal levels. The assessment process can take as long as two months to complete.
As far as is known, Hiroshima, Japan, at the Asian Games, was the first IOC accredited laboratory to successfully test for the drug. This capacity was not announced until after preliminary testing at the Asian Games which resulted in the many and various Chinese athletes being caught.
Masking agents, including diuretics, are much easier to detect in urine. Thus, the only real option to avoid detection is to cease use of the drug in compliance with a clearance curve that will reveal an absence on the day of assessment. However, if the testing day is unknown, athletes/coaches/officials run a much higher risk of detection.
To be able to catch steroid cheats, it most likely would be necessary to conduct testing within one half-day since last use. The case for unannounced testing is strong. Testing at competitions, and after one day's notice can be considered to be practically useless.
Possible use of blood. The concentration of steroids in the blood usually is so low that a large amount (much more than the standard 4 ml sample) would have to be taken to give any chance of detection.
Only when reliable norms for the presence of human growth hormone (HGH) and the hemopoietic hormone are established could there be a strong justification for using blood for testing. It most likely could not be used for steroid testing.
The use of the indirect screening blood tests for steroids by assessing concentrations of HDLs, most likely would be impractical because of the time between initial screening and the occurrence of follow-up direct assessment.
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