Protecting the Right to Enjoy Doping-Free Sport


UK research leads to new Growth Hormone test and positive findings

A new test for Growth Hormone has been developed and implemented following ten years of research by the GH-2004 team, based at the University of Southampton.

The test, with funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency, and supported by UK Anti-Doping, was used for the first time by King’s College London analysts at the anti-doping laboratory for  the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, leading to two Paralympic findings.

Developed by scientists at the University of Southampton, King’s College London and University of Kent, the test is based on the measurement of two proteins in the blood, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and the amino terminal pro-peptide of type III collagen (P-III-NP).  Both of these proteins, which act as markers of growth hormone use, increase in response to growth hormone.

The work of the GH-2004 project built on previous research from the GH-2000 team which was a consortium of leading growth hormone experts from London, Gothenberg, Aarhus and Naples, in partnership with the two European growth hormone manufacturers (Novo Nordisk and Pharmacia) and statisticians from the University of Kent and was mainly funded by the European Union under their Biomed 2 Programme (BMH4 CT950678) and the International Olympic Committee.

On 8 September 2012, the International Paralympic Committee announced that two Powerlifters had received two year suspensions for Anti-Doping Rule Violations involving Growth Hormone following an adverse laboratory finding using the new markers test.

Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton said: “We are pleased to have another and more effective and reliable means to catch cheats and help deter harmful drug misuse.

"There has been a tremendous amount of team work to develop this test and I am delighted that this dedication has finally succeeded. I would like to thank the World Anti-Doping Agency, US Anti-Doping and UK Anti-Doping for their support and trust in our work.”

Professor David Cowan, Head of the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London and Director of the anti-doping laboratory for the Games, said: "These findings prove that the years of research have been worthwhile. In partnership with Southampton University and Kent University, this has been one of the most complex scientific projects the Drug Control Centre at King’s has been involved in.

"To be able to carry out this test at this year’s Games is a huge achievement. It represents a big step forward in staying at the forefront of anti-doping science, to help deter drug misuse in sport."

Andy Parkinson, UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, said: “Continual improvement in testing science is fundamental to the global anti-doping movement, ensuring that sophisticated dopers are caught and those at a tipping point are deterred. I am delighted that this UK developed test, which my team has been closely involved with, was used at the 2012 Paralympic Games to such good effect.”