June 2013 Newletter – Peptides in Sport

There has been a lot of talk about peptides and their use in Australian sport, in particular AFL.   

Peptides small compounds made from individual molecules known as amino acids, which join together to form long chains. Peptides are distinguished from proteins on the basis of size, and as a benchmark can be understood to contain approximately 50 amino acids or less.  The amino acid chains are the building blocks for proteins in your body also.

Protein

The peptides that have received the most attention in the media of late are growth hormone releasing peptides.   The compound insulin in your body is an example of a peptide.

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) named growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRP) as one of the leading substances being used by professional athletes, when they produced the report ‘Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport’. The ACC suspected that “widespread use of peptides has been identified, or is suspected…in a number of professional sporting codes.”

Some peptide supplements are legal, and work in a similar way to protein shakes to help the body recover from strenuous activity. However, other forms of peptides (such as GHRP) encourage the body to release growth hormones, which are used to build muscle mass. These substances are illegal, since they provide an unfair advantage and in many cases, they haven’t been cleared or declared safe for human use. As such, they are outlawed by the government and sporting bodies, such as ASADA and the AFL.  This is based on the idea that it directly modifies the way your body works naturally.

AFL GEELONG ESSENDON

Benefits:   

  • Heal quickly as possible after an injury.
  • Recover after a strenuous training session.
  • Accelerate the muscle and soft tissue healing and rebuilding process.

Negatives

    • Unproven results
    • Unknown side-effects (these may include predisposing yourself to life threatening diseases such as hormone sensitive cancers, heart disease)

When training at high intensities an athlete will often damage the muscle due to the effort and prolonged workout periods. Certain peptides stimulate muscular growth, with fewer side effects than steroids, helping the body heal at a rapid pace not normally possible. With a concentrated effort and use of these substances the net effect is increased muscle mass, tissue repair, and reduced body fat in a significantly shorter timeframe.  

From an anti-doping perspective, the ability to detect the use of growth hormone releasing peptides is difficult because the peptide chains within the body are so small and the substances are rapidly digested, so in many cases there’s nothing to look for.

Scientists are working to keep up with the people who continually seek to push – and exceed – the boundaries of what’s allowed.

If you need further information or advice please ask your General Practitioner, Physiotherapist or Sports Scientist.   There are other ways to get some of the same results.

For more information on peptides please follow the links below:

ASADA (Australian Sports & Doping Agency):  http://www.asada.gov.au/

Peptides Australia:  http://peptidesaustralia.com/

ABC Article:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-07/explainer-performance-enhancing-substances/4506126