new "designer" steroid called THG is an unapproved new drug, not a
supplement, and cannot be legally marketed, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration said. THG is an anabolic steroid used, illicitly, to build muscle mass. Anabolic steroids
are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. Some are approved by
the FDA to sell, by prescription only, to treat certain muscle-wasting diseases.
But athletes use them illegally to bulk up. THG actually was derived by some simple chemical modifications of two well-known — and
athletically banned — synthetic steroids, called trenbolone and gestrinone. The
discovery of THG, which had heretofore escaped detection by standard screening
tests, is at the center of perhaps the biggest doping scandal ever in sports.
Although purveyors of THG may represent it as a dietary supplement, in fact it
does not meet the dietary supplement definition, according to the
FDA in a statement on October 27, 2003. The FDA said
it did not need legislation to give it authority to regulate the steroid, which
is new to the market and which has figured in several international sports
scandals. Rather, it is a purely synthetic 'designer'
steroid derived by simple chemical modification from another anabolic steroid
that is explicitly banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Based
on the agency's analysis of this product, FDA has determined that THG is an
unapproved new drug. And as such, it cannot be legally marketed without FDA
approval under the agency's rigorous approval standards that are meant to ensure
that drugs that are sold to American consumers are safe and effective.
Anabolic steroids can have dangerous side
effects, including liver damage, heart disease, anxiety and rage. While
little is known about THG's specific effects because it is so new, it
likely poses similar risks. The steroids are metabolized by the body into
testosterone and can enhance sports performance, but often at the price of
an athlete's long-term health. They can stunt growth, raise blood pressure
and affect the sexual organs. The steroids are
metabolized by the body into testosterone and can enhance sports
performance, but often at the price of an athlete's long-term health. They
can stunt growth, raise blood pressure and affect the sexual organs. U.S. track and field chiefs are weighing
lifetime bans even for first-time steroid offenses by American athletes.
Athletes could also be fined up to $100,000 if convicted of steroid use,
and their coaches could face similar fines. Four U.S.
athletes have tested positive in "A" sample urine tests for THG,
together with Britain's leading sprinter, Dwain Chambers. All five are
awaiting the results of second, "B" tests. Chambers has denied willfully taking the drug.
In 2003 two U.S. senators introduced legislation to bring THG
and other, similar substances under FDA control. The measure, introduced by Sens.
Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, would add
tetrahydrogestrinone, androstenedione and other steroid precursors to the list
of muscle-building steroids listed as Schedule III controlled substances. The
FDA move preempts the legislation, but may be open to legal challenge.
It said it was working with federal law enforcement agencies
to "aggressively engage, enforce, and prosecute those firms or individuals
who manufacture, distribute, or market THG."
Major League Baseball placed THG on its banned substance list
Oct 29, 2003, just one day after the Food and Drug Administration declared the
controversial steroid an illegal drug. Major League Soccer also banned THG on
that date. The NFL had already outlawed the substance, but the NBA and NHL have
not. THG is banned by the International Olympic Committee and its use can lead
to a two-year ban.
There are numerous interesting articles on the web on this
subject. Here are a few: