Skip to main content

Cheating in sport: What are banned substances?

By Paul Armstrong, CNN
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 0918 GMT (1718 HKT)
The Australian report claims doping involves athletes, their support staff, doctors and organized criminal elements.
The Australian report claims doping involves athletes, their support staff, doctors and organized criminal elements.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australian Crime Commission finds evidence of "widespread use" of doping in sports
  • ACC: Clear parallels with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Lance Armstrong
  • Identifies new generation of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs)
  • Some substances perceived as undetectable, making them attractive in sport

(CNN) -- Weeks after Lance Armstrong's startling admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career, the world of sport has been rocked by explosive new allegations about cheating in sports-mad Australia.

On Thursday, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) published the findings of a year-long investigation that claimed the use of banned substances such as growth stimulants was "widespread" among professional athletes across a range of sports there. In many instances, the report said, the substances are not yet approved for human use.

READ: Drug abuse rife in Australian sport

In its conclusion, the ACC said there are clear parallels between what has been discovered in Australia and the US Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Armstrong -- who was recently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles -- underlining the transnational threat posed by doping to professional sport.

READ: Insurance company to sue Armstrong

The report stressed that it is not just athletes that are involved, but their support staff, doctors and organized criminal elements.

What is doping?

Aussie doping tied to organized crime
USADA official: Armstrong lied to Oprah
Doping club was like a badge of honor

It involves an athlete taking drugs or blood products to artificially boost their performance during training and competition.

What substances are we talking about here?

The ACC report identified an evolving market in a new generation of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs) -- known as peptides and hormones.

According to the ACC, some of these substances are perceived by athletes to be undetectable, making them attractive to those seeking to gain an unfair advantage.

-- Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides

"Peptides" stimulate the release of an increased level of human growth hormone (hGh), making them popular among athletes and body builders to promote muscle growth. They are also used in combination with anabolic steroids -- which also promote size and strength -- to maintain muscle gain. They are sold as a cream or in a solution for injection.

While some peptide supplements are perfectly legal as a recovery aid after exercise, growth-stimulating peptides are classified as a prohibited substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and therefore are banned for use by professional athletes in and out of competition.

-- Growth Hormone Variants

The report also identified the use of AOD-9604, a variant of growth hormone with fat-burning properties often taken by athletes to increase their power. Clinical trials suggest it may even help to repair and enhance muscle formation, according to the ACC report and WADA.

AOD-9604 is not prohibited by WADA.

-- Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs)

Like anabolic steroids, SARMs build strength, bone density and muscle mass by stimulating the body's androgen receptor, which itself boosts the uptake of testosterone -- the main male hormone -- into cells.

SARMs have a lower risk of side effects normally associated with the prolonged use of anabolic steroids, such as high blood pressure, liver damage, depression, baldness, the development of male characteristics in females and the development of breast tissue in males.

According to ACC report, SARMs are often used in combination with other PIEDs, including hGh. SARMs are a prohibited substance for elite athletes both in and out of competition under WADA rules.

-- InsulIn-lIke growth factors (IGF-1)

IGF-1 is one of the primary hormones necessary for cell growth in the body.

Many athletes use IGF-1 for its anabolic effect in muscle and to facilitate the development of cartilage and bone. In many cases, athletes will use hGh and IGF-1 in small doses to reduce the chances of returning a positive anti-doping sample, the ACC report says.

IGF-1 is also banned by WADA.

-- Mechano growth factor (MGF)

A variant of IGF-1, MGF leads to an increase in the muscle cells necessary for adult muscles to continue growth beyond their genetic limit. It is often used by bodybuilders due to its role in muscle repair following exercise.

Banned under WADA rules, MGF is also illegal to possess in many countries without a prescription.

-- Other substances

The ACC report also identified a number of other performance-enhancing substances -- some being prescription only medicines:

Ipamorelin and Sermorelin -- both peptides with anabolic effects, which are both prohibited by WADA.

Follistatin -- Promotes muscle growth. Banned by WADA, with its possession without legal authority is illegal.

Thymosin -- Used to speed up recovery from injury, it is an unregulated substance banned by WADA.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
From spectacular action at the Commonwealth Games , to high-speed drama on the race track, here are the week's best sporting images.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0404 GMT (1204 HKT)
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT