A valid test for human growth hormone (HGH) could emerge by the Sydney Olympics but it will take political will and about $1 million, a leading Australian medical researcher said recently.
Professor Ross Cuneo and senior research scientist Jennifer Wallace were part of an international group of scientists who helped develop the first known detection test for HGH abuse in athletes earlier this year. But Cuneo said last month that more money was needed to fund thousands more tests on athletes throughout the world to make the test definitive.
HGH use by athletes was highlighted leading up to last year’s world swimming championships in Perth when a Chinese swimmer was caught at the Sydney airport with 13 vials of the muscle-building substance.
With less than a year to go before the start of the Sydney Games, Cuneo said he still believed time was available to have a valid blood test in place for HGH. “But there needs to be lots of money and political will,” the University of Queensland researcher said.
Cuneo said if the tests were carried out in conjunction with similar research into finding an ironclad test for erythropoietin (EPO) use, costs could be kept to as low as $1 million.
Former Australian swimming champion Murray Rose said finding the money was “absolutely crucial” for the future of sport. “I think the recognition has to be that unless this issue is under control, all of sport loses relevance,” Rose said. “In the scheme of things, a million U.S. dollars is not a lot.”