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Growth Horm IGF Res. 2009 Aug;19(4):320-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2009.04.009. Epub 2009 May 24.

The history of doping and growth hormone abuse in sport.

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The GH-2004 Project, Endocrinology and Metabolism Sub-Division, Developmental Origins of Adult Health and Disease Division, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.


The earliest records of doping in sport come from the Ancient Olympics games when athletes are reported to have taken figs to improve their performance. With the advent of modern pharmacology in the 19th century, many athletes began to experiment with cocktails of drugs to improve strength and overcome fatigue. As this practice was not illegal, there are good records of the lengths athletes would go to in order to win. Alongside the benefits, came the dangers and following several fatalities, a code to ban performance enhancing drugs was gradually developed. Growth hormone was first isolated from the human pituitary gland in the 1950s. Its anabolic effects were soon recognised and athletes had begun to abuse it by the early 1980s, at least a decade before it was used therapeutically by adult endocrinologists. A number of high profile athletes have admitted using growth hormone. Detection of its abuse has been challenging and the lack of an effective test has undoubtedly encouraged its abuse. Only now are methodologies being developed that should stem this tide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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