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What is Human Growth Hormone?

Human Growth Hormone (hGH) is produced in the body and secreted by the pituitary gland near the base of the brain. HGH helps in bone, organ and cartilage growth and also helps in repairing damaged muscles.
When the gland releases the growth hormone, it results in the secretion of a protein called IGF-1 from the liver, according to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) website. “The IGF-1 protein is what ultimately stimulates the growth of bones, muscle, and other tissues,” USADA states.

How does hGH help improve athletic performance?

hGH is known to increase muscle mass, strength as well as tissue-repairing effects, which according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) website ‘may explain the attraction for its use as a doping agent in power and endurance sports’.

Is hGH banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)?

Yes, hGH is banned both in-competition as well as out-of-competition.

What are the side effects of doping with hGH or overdosage?

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, muscle, joint and bone pain and hypertension are the side effects of hGH abuse, according to the WADA website. In some cases, abnormal growth of organs is also observed.

How is it detected if an athlete has taken hGH?

One of the ways to check is to track protein levels found in blood plasma.

How many athletes have been caught using hGH for enhancing performance?

According to the Wada website, since 2010, there have been 15 adverse analytical findings. Two athletes also received bans after they tested positive for hGH during tests conducted at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Is hGH prescribed by medical doctors and what is the Messi connection?

hGH is given to both children and adults with hormone deficiency. It is given as an injection. One of the most famous stars to take growth hormone treatment as a youngster is Argentina and Barcelona star, Lionel Messi. In an interview to Match of the Day magazine and reported by Guardian, Messi is quoted as saying: “It wasn’t difficult for me to move to Barcelona because I knew I had to. I needed money for my medicine to help me grow and Barcelona was the only club that offered. So as soon as they did, I knew I had to go.”

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