Current steroid (testosterone) doping tests should be scrapped for international sport, because they ignore vital ethnic differences in hormone activity, suggests research published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Testosterone, and other hormones that boost testosterone levels, such as growth hormone, are among the most widely abused performance enhancers used in sport, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Evidence of abuse is determined by the testosterone: epitestosterone ratio, or T:E ratio for short, in the urine. The threshold is set at above four for everyone, and confirmed by chemical analysis (gas chromatography).
To highlight the inadequacy of the current test, the researchers tested the steroid profiles of football players of different ethnicities, after they had deliberately added steroid to their urine samples.
The scientists think that a variations of the UGT2B17 gene account for some differences in the testosterone: epitestosterone (T:E) hormone ratio.
They used gas chromatography, and took account of a variation (polymorphism) in the UGT2B17 gene.
Previous research has indicated that variations in this gene account for some of the differences in the urinary T:E ratio between men of white and Asian ethnic backgrounds. The gene affects metabolism, and therefore the rate at which testosterone is passed out of the body into the urine.
They included 57 men of Black African origin; 32 of Asian origin; 32 of Hispanic origin; and 50 of white (Caucasian) origin in their research. All the men were aged between 18 and 36.
The frequency of these genetic variations differs between races.
The results revealed the genetic variation in almost one in four (22%) of the African footballers; in eight out 10 (81%) of the Asian players; one in 10 of the white men, and in 7% of the Hispanic players.
Based on these findings, the Swiss researchers "recalibrated" the thresholds for each ethnic group.
They should measure a larger sampling of people of different races to get more accurate estimates of the frequencies of UGT2B17 gene variations in each race. Perhaps that work has been done already? Anyone know? International HapMap database anyone?
These scientists calculate that different T:E ratios should be seen as the natural typical ratios to expect for each race. But these ratios do not work for individuals for the same reason the races differ on average: People within a race will differ in which genetic variation they have in UGT2B17.
The new T:E ratios were: 5.6 for men of African origin; 5.7 for white men, and 5.8 for men of Hispanic origin. For men of Asian origin, the ratio was 3.8.
While the press release is vague on this point the press release might be hinting at the need to do genetic testing on athletics to discover what their hormone ratios should be.
A single indiscriminate threshold to pick up steroid abuse in international sport is "not fit for purpose," the authors conclude. Instead, the reference ranges should be tailored to an athlete's individual endocrinological (hormonal) passport, they suggest.
"[Such a] passport may detect modifications induced by abuse of testosterone and its precursors, but also alterations in the steroid profile caused by indirect androgen doping products," they conclude.
A complete genetic profile will eventually be needed for each athlete to determine the expected natural range for a wide variety of hormones and other chemicals and structures within the body. Athletes will use their genetic natural ranges in order to know how much cheating they can get away with. They'll use drugs and other therapies to push their physiology to the limits achievable through extreme exercise.
Genetic profiling of athletic potential will lead to acceleration of human evolution. Parents will give their offspring ideal genetic variants for athletic performance. Then genetic testing will show future athletics as more capable of extreme (at least by today's standards) levels of achievement. Then athletic associations be faced with the decision of whether to test parents in order to determine whether Lance or Mary Lou has natural genetic variations.
In the long run I expect anti-doping testing regimes for athletes to collapse due to impracticality. Few humans will be wild type. When rules against genetically engineered competitors require the banning of most humans from Olympic and other amateur and professional athletic competition then people will reject the rules.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 March 13 11:13 PM Biotech Athletics|