The Athletics Integrity Unit provisionally suspended Team Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare with immediate effect after a sample collected from the sprinter tested positive for human growth hormone.
The AIU, which is an independent integrity body created by the World Athletics, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the growth hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.
A provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.
The AIU collected the sample from Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on July 19.
The WADA-accredited laboratory which analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time on Friday.
AIU said the athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension Saturday morning in Tokyo.
She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m Saturday evening.
The AIU said it would make no further comment on the matter at this time.
Okagbare had on Friday cruised to first place in her 100m heat in 11.05 seconds to qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics.
She was also due to compete in the 200m, as well as the 4x100m relay.
What is human growth hormone?
Naturally, human growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, and it spurs growth in children and adolescents.
“It also helps to regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function,” according to online portal WebMD.
“Produced synthetically, HGH is the active ingredient in a number of prescription drugs and in other products available widely over the Internet,” WebMD adds.
HGH uses and abuses
Experts say synthetic human growth hormone was developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses in children and adults. In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature of unknown cause as well as poor growth due to a number of medical causes.
In adults, approved uses of HGH include short bowel syndrome, a condition in which nutrients are not properly absorbed due to severe intestinal disease or the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine; HGH deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or their treatment; and muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS.
Why FDA frowns at HGH use
But the most common uses for HGH are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Some people use the hormone, along with other performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. “Yet HGH’s effect on athletic performance is unknown,” the portal warns.
HGH doping and athletic performance
According to Harvard Health, adults who are growth hormone deficient get larger muscles, more energy, and improved exercise capacity from replacement therapy.
“Athletes work hard to build their muscles and enhance performance. Some also turn to GH,” HH says.
Banned by International Olympic Committee
Despite being banned by the International Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, growth hormone abuse has tainted many sports, including baseball, cycling, and track and field.
A team of researchers from California conducted a detailed review of 44 high-quality studies of growth hormone in athletes. The subjects were young (average age 27), lean (average body mass index 24), and physically fit; 85% were male. A total of 303 volunteers received GH injections, while 137 received placebo.
After receiving daily injections for an average of 20 days, the subjects who received GH increased their lean body mass (which reflects muscle mass but can also include fluid mass) by an average of 4.6 pounds. That’s a big gain — but it did not translate into improved performance.
In fact, GH did not produce measurable increases in either strength or exercise capacity. And the subjects who got GH were more likely to retain fluid and experience fatigue than were the volunteers who got the placebo.
What does growth hormone do in adults?
According to Cedars Sinai, growth hormone plays a role in healthy muscle, how our bodies collect fat (especially around the stomach area), the ratio of high density to low density lipoproteins in our cholesterol levels and bone density. In addition, growth hormone is needed for normal brain function.
Why is HGH illegal?
The illicit distribution of HGH occurs as the result of physicians illegally prescribing it for off-label uses and for the treatment of FDA-approved medical conditions without examination and supervision.
This article “Human growth hormone, the substance that sent Okagbare out of Tokyo 2020” originally appeared here