Improved Abilities Discovered For Detecting HCG Doping In Sport

A new peer-reviewed research conducted by Getachew A. Woldemariam and Dr. Anthony W. Butch may place a vital role in the day to come for detecting athletes who are taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to enhance athletic performance.

Woldemariam and Butch through their research developed ways to specifically measure several forms of hCG in urine. In females, urinary human chorionic gonadotropin is a marker of pregnancy. The new test, by specifically measuring the various forms of hCG in male urine, can better detect athletes who are taking hCG.

Butch remarked this immunoextraction and tandem mass spectrometry method for measuring the major isoforms of chorionic gonadotropin in urine is a significant improvement over currently available immunoassays. Dr. Butch further added that the method has superior analytical specificity and will greatly enhance the ability to detect male athletes who dope with various forms of chorionic gonadotropin.

Dr. Larry Bowers, PCC Scientific Advisory Board Chair and USADA Chief Science Officer, commented that the measurement of male urinary hCG in anti-doping has been an area of concern for many years. Dr. Bowers added this important research has not only developed a sensitive and specific LC-MS/MS assay which will help us to detect the various forms of hCG and those who use it to cheat their competitors, but Woldemariam and Butch have greatly added to our knowledge about hCG excretion after administration. It was further remarked by Bowers that with the specificity of the LC-MS/MS method, it should be possible to provide additional information about the concentration of intact hCG in male urine samples who have not doped and therefore increase the sensitivity of the test.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), based on the study results, is in the process of developing new guidelines for WADA-accredited labs for conducting tests.

Human chorionic gonadotropin has the ability to stimulate production of Testosterone in the body and is presently classified as a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency list. It is commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders with synthetic anabolic steroids. Medical practitioners recommend this hormone to young boys when their testicles have not dropped down into the scrotum (due to a pituitary gland disorder) in a normal way. Use of HCG is commonly made by athletes and bodybuilders during a steroid cycle to maintain testosterone production and testicle size. Bioavailability of the HCG injection is better with intravenous administration than with subcutaneous administration.

In the last few years, HCG has been marketed for weight loss and it is believed that it can improve mood, assist in fat burning, and reduce hunger. Many elite bodybuilders have successfully used HCG to get rid of stubborn fat and fat accumulated in the abdomen and the thighs without compromising on muscle mass. HCG abuse can result in health complications such as breast enlargement in women, sudden development of facial or pubic hair in adolescents, indigestion, difficulty in breathing, rapid weight or height gain, bloating, and nausea.

The research, which was published in the August issue of Clinical Chemistry, was funded by the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC).

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