Anti-doping officials hail first positive test for HGH
LONDON (Reuters) - The suspension of British rugby league player Terry Newton after he tested positive for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) could have a wide impact on the detection of drugs in sport, anti-doping officials said on Tuesday.
Former Britain international Newton, who played for Super League side Wakefield, admitted the offence and apologised to the club in a statement issued through his solicitor.
The 31-year-old was banned for two years and this week had his Wakefield contract cancelled after testing positive in an out-of-competition test in November 2009 -- the first positive test for HGH in any sport from a blood sample.
"This is a landmark in the fight against doping," UK Anti-Doping chief executive, Andy Parkinson told his organisation's website (www.ukad.org.uk).
"HGH is a substance that has previously gone undetected because it leaves the system quickly after administration."
"This positive finding was a combination of intelligence, target testing and a strong partnership with the anti-doping scientific community and the Rugby Football League.
"Athletes using HGH should take Newton's experience as a stern warning -- if you use HGH you will not get away with it."
The substance has been in the cross-hairs of the anti-doping lobby for more than a decade as its use, particularly in athletics, has been widely suspected but never proven.
"This first completed case involving an analytical finding for HGH is a positive step in the global fight against doping in sport," David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on the UK Anti-Doping website.
"It sends a strong message to those athletes who take the risk to misuse HGH that we will ultimately catch them."
Most WADA-accredited laboratories can now test for HGH, including the King's College London Drug Control Centre in the
King's College's professor David Cowan, said: "This is an exciting, major breakthrough that has been the result of many years of careful research with WADA.
"The detection of substances that are virtually identical to our natural hormones has always represented a challenge.
"This shows how science has closed an important gap and further enhances our ability to deter the cheating athlete to ensure the integrity of sport and promote healthy competition."
Newton said in his statement: "I have made a grave error of judgement in taking a banned substance and hope that, if nothing else, my stupidity will be a warning to any other professional in any sport of the consequences of doing so."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
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