AFL to test for human growth hormones - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL to test for human growth hormones

09/03/2010 06:23:25 PM Comments (0)

Tanking has a new meaning in the AFL, after the league announced plans to store players' blood and urine samples long-term among upgraded measures to deter drug cheats.

Samples will be kept on ice for eight years in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) deep freeze facility, known as The Tank, to allow for repeated testing as technology advances.

AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said it raised the possibility of individuals being retrospectively stripped of awards, such as the Brownlow Medal, or a team being stripped of a premiership, if they were later found to have used banned substances.

The AFL will also be the first Australian sporting code to blood test its athletes for the performance-enhancing drugs Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA).

CERA is a new synthetic variant of the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO).

ASADA acting chief executive Richard Ings said the AFL's new program, which will cost about $500,000 a year, contained every element his agency wanted and set the example for other Australian sporting bodies.

"ASADA considers the AFL 2010 anti-doping program to be the gold standard of anti-doping programs in Australian sport," Ings said.

Almost 1,000 tests will be conducted this year, including target-testing where warranted.

While the AFL has had only one player test positive to performance-enhancing drugs - former Richmond and Footscray ruckman Justin Charles - in 20 years of testing, Anderson said they needed to be proactive.

"Performance-enhancing drugs are a massive threat worldwide to different sports and their integrity," Anderson said.

"We're determined to stay ahead of the game, that's why we're entering into this agreement.

"We don't want ... the integrity of our sport threatened by performance-enhancing drugs, we're determined to take every step we can to prevent that happening."

Anderson said the freezing of samples, together with ASADA powers to uncover violations through investigative methods other than testing, meant that even if drug cheats could beat current testing technology, they were not safe.

"We're more likely to catch someone using performance-enhancing drugs than any other (Australian) sport," he said.

"And even if you get away with something now, your sample is frozen for eight years and you're a strong chance of being caught and exposed in the future."

He said the league would "absolutely" remove a Brownlow from a player who was later found to have been a drug cheat at the time and a similar stance could apply towards clubs.

"God forbid, may it never happen because of what we're doing here," he said.

"But if you had a case of any systematic cheating, you would think about taking a premiership away, absolutely."

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