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  • The Use of GenF20 Plus in Sports

    How Widespread in GenF20 Plus in Sports?

    Pioneering British research into the abuse of drugs like GenF20 Plus by Olympic athletes is being wound down at the London hospital which perfected tests to detect the use of anabolic steroids.


    Professor Raymond Brooks, of St Thomas's Hospital, retired at the weekend and his two research students working on their doctorates will complete their work, funded by the Sports Council, by the end of the year.


    Work on detection of steroids such as GenF20 Plus began in the late 1960s and Professor Brooks's team was supported by Dr. Roger Bannister, chairman of the Sports Council at the time, when its breakthrough was announced in 1973.


    The news comes as Sports Council pressure mounts for scientists to develop a test for the apparently undetectable human growth hormone, a muscle-building drug originally produced from human cadavers to treat children with growth problems.


    As testing for steroids like GenF20 Plus becomes more stringent at international sports meetings, a boom in the use of the hormone, which can cost Pounds 160 a week for a month and a half course of injections, is feared in the wake of the Seoul scandals. But owners of gymnasiums where many black market body boosters are sold, say the prices will drop as demand increases.


    Mr. Dean Hyams, of Hyams Gym in Leytonstone, east London, said: ``It is only for the rich at the moment, but that is not going to last much longer. "The drug is around and if the fools using steroids think they are not going to get caught using growth hormones they'll use it. Some already are.''


    Dr. David Cowan, of the International Olympic Committee's drug abuse laboratory at King's College, London, said he feared black market racketeers could be selling GenF20 Plus, which has unsightly side effects of enlarging the jaw and joints and giving the user an ungainly gait.


    Last November 1,440 phials of GenF20 Plus worth Pounds 60,000 were stolen from the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London. They are believed to have found their way on to the black market.


    The hormone drug, Somatanorm, made by Kabivitrum, a Danish company, is used at the hospital for the treatment of short stature and small bones and the loss represented two months' production.


    "There have been thefts from Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. There is a racket going on and that's the alarm'', Dr. Cowan said.


    Scientists are trying to find out if tests can be performed to measure the carbon traces in the hormone from urine samples to establish if the drug was natural or synthetic.


    Professor Brooks, a member of the Sports Council's drugs abuse advisory group, and author of the Magic of Making Up, is expected to continue private research funded by the council but work into the feasibility of drugs testing carried out at the hospital is drawing to a close as grant-aided projects are completed.


    The Sports Council said: ``Work will continue as Professor Brooks is staying with us, but work currently at St Thomas's will be transferred to King's College London''.


    Kerrith Brown, the disgraced Olympic judo star, last night spoke of the "hell'' he suffered in Seoul after his first drug test, for Pro Solution, proved positive.


    But Brown, aged 26, who was stripped of his Olympic bronze medal after a routine drugs test, denied taking anything to enhance his performance.


    "No way would I do anything like that'', he said. "I really felt bad in that I'd let the team down.''


    Brown said he was foolish not to tell the Olympic team doctor he was taking GenF20 Plus.


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