Research by University of Oslo scientists has established that muscles of the body can retain the benefits provided by anabolic steroids decades after the point at which they were taken.

Findings of the research suggest that convicted dope cheats such as sprinter Justin Gatlin may still be benefiting from having taken banned drugs long after their bans have expired. The research data also casts shadow over once-banned athletes such as Tyson Gay of United States and Britain’s Dwain Chambers. This summer, Gatlin ran the fastest ever 100m and 200m times by an athlete in his thirties despite twice having served suspensions.

The study by University of Oslo scientists has huge implications for the present anti-doping system where an offender for the first time is unlikely to be suspended for more than two years and could actually serve less than half that.

Kristian Gundersen, Professor of Physiology at the University of Oslo, said he thinks it is likely that effects could be lifelong or at least lasting decades in humans. Gundersen added our data indicates the exclusion time of two years is far too short and even four years is too short.

The team of Gundersen studied the effect of steroids on female mice. Gundersen said he is convinced that the same mechanism is at work in muscles of humans and also added that other performance-enhancing drugs would have similar long-term benefits. Gundersen remarked he would be very surprised if there were any major differences between humans and mice in this context and also said the fundamental biology of muscle growth is similar in humans and in mice, and in principle any drug that builds muscle mass could trigger this mechanism. Gundersen also remarked if you exercise, or take anabolic steroids, you get more nuclei and you get bigger muscles and said if you take away the steroids, you lose the muscle mass, but the nuclei remain inside the muscle fibers.

The performances of Gatlin have caused disquiet in the athletics world. Dai Greene, Britain’s 2011 400m hurdles world champion, remarked Gatlin is over the hill as far as sprinting is concerned – he should never be running these times for the 100m and 200m. Greene added but he is still doing it, and you have to look at his past, and ask how it is still affecting him now, because the average person wouldn’t be able to do that. The 2011 400m hurdles world champion added those are incredible performances and not many people have run that fast separately, ever and further remarked it shows one of two things: either he’s still taking performance-enhancing drugs to get the best out of him at his advanced age, or the ones he did take are still doing a fantastic job.

Greene went on to remark that because there is no way he can still be running that well at this late point in his career and said after having years on the sidelines, being unable to train or compete, it doesn’t really add up – 9.77 is an incredibly fast time and you only have to look at his performances.

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