A study led by New Scientist discovered that even a small amount of testosterone can offer athletes a significant performance increase in a quarter of the time previously thought to be required. The findings will bolster proposals for a significant increase in drug testing.
According to conventional thinking, winstrol for sale should be administered monthly for at least 10 weeks. However, the study’s lead author, sports scientist Robert Weatherby of Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, discovered that the greatest improvement in performance occurred after just three weeks.
Athletes would be less likely to be caught by drug testers if they only took testosterone for a short period of time, took smaller amounts, or did both. “We are just verifying what athletes have previously found out scientifically,” says Randall Urban of the University of Texas at Austin, who has examined the effects of testosterone on older men.
While much emphasis has been focused on synthetic anabolic steroids like the recently found THG, athletes and bodybuilders abuse various versions of the natural hormone testosterone. “Testosterone abuse is still widespread in sport,” says Christiane Ayotte of Canada’s Montreal Doping Control Laboratory.
In addition, testosterone usage is common among youngsters who wish to improve their appearance or performance. According to one report, an alarming 3.5 percent of high school pupils in the United States use testosterone-based drugs.
According to David Cowan of King’s College London’s Drugs Control Centre, “it seems reasonable to presume that at least that proportion is also true for the sporting community.” “It’s possible that we’re only catching 10% of individuals who are using the drug,” he says.
It took until 1996 for the first rigorous investigation of testosterone’s performance-enhancing benefits in young males. For ten weeks, volunteers were given either 600 mg of testosterone enanthate or a placebo injection (bodybuilders usually take much larger doses). At the end of the study, performance tests revealed that the hormone improved muscle size and strength in individuals who completed strength training and to a lesser level in those who did not.
The only other study of its kind, published in 2001, looked at the effects of various doses, although the volunteers were only assessed after 20 weeks. No one has previously looked at the effects of testosterone over a shorter length of time.
Weatherby’s most recent study followed the progress of 18 male amateur athletes over the course of a six-week training regimen. For six weeks, nine men were given weekly shots of testosterone enanthate at a level of 3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (about half the dose used in the 1996 trial), while the other nine were given a placebo.
The contentious trial, which was produced by New Scientist, Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, and Mentorn for a television show that aired this week in Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, was approved by Southern Cross University’s ethical committee.
The ability to empathize is diminished.
Weatherby took measurements of the men’s muscle size and performance at the start of the experiment, three weeks later, and six weeks later. The researchers had no idea who was getting testosterone and who was getting a placebo.
The researchers also looked at how testosterone affected the mood, personality, and immune system of the participants. Given the modest dose and brief time, no noticeable effects were expected. According to the personality tests, testosterone users became less empathic and caring of others, and their immune systems’ activity decreased marginally, but there was no discernible effect on mood.
The athletes that took testosterone, on the other hand, saw a significant improvement in their performance. The most surprising discovery was that the most significant increases in muscle growth and power happened only three weeks into the study (see graphics).
Cowan says, “I’m astonished it worked that soon.” Depending on the level at which they participate, professional athletes can expect to be tested anywhere from once every two years to up to 20 times each year. “It may theoretically make it more probable that you could sneak past without being noticed in the random testing situation,” he argues.
Both active and passive
It’s difficult to test for testosterone. All you have to do with synthetic steroids is verify their presence. However, because testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, testers must rely on a few tactics.
The typical way is to calculate the TE ratio, which is the ratio of active to inactive testosterone in a person’s urine. This ratio is, on average, 1. Because the body ceases producing testosterone while people are taking high dosages of testosterone, the TE ratio might climb to 10 or more and then fall below 1 when they stop. The length of time it takes for the TE ratio to return to normal once people stop taking the hormone is dependent on the amount of the doses and how long they were taken for – it can take months.
Until 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency, which sets international standards for drug usage in sports, considered a TE ratio of more than 6 to be suspect. New regulations went into effect last week that require any aberrant amount of testosterone, no matter how low, to be investigated.
The analysis of urine samples from the athletes in the Australian trial is not yet complete, but other studies suggest that even on this very low dose, the TE ratio of persons would be high enough to catch them out.
However, if athletes or coaches have learnt to use modest doses for short periods of time through trial and error, they are less likely to be caught. Even under the new testing procedure, their TE ratios should revert to normal faster, thus minimizing the odds of detection.