Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Olympics

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about performance enhancing drugs and athletics, especially the Olympics.

How are growth hormones being used by modern-day Olympic athletes?

Growth Hormone (GH or HGH) is thought to increase lean body mass, speed the recovery of muscle fatigue and injury, increase bone density, improve lipid profiles, reduce cardiovascular risk factors and improve mental health. There have been no random controlled trials to support the claims of increased performance, but some small studies of growth hormone have shown increased lean body mass, but not an overall increase in strength. HGH can be harder to detect than other performance enhancing drugs, such as anabolic agents. HGH can also be used in combination with other performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone, anabolic steroids and erythropoietin.

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Source: Corinne Lyons, MA, AT, CSCS, Premier Health Sports Medicine, Upper Valley Medical Center; World Anti-Doping Agency, US Anti-Doping Agency