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THG
tetrahydrogestrinone

 

Claimed Benefits

A 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.

Harmful Effects?

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:

FDA statement on THG
Four Raiders face suspension over THG (SI)

Feds hunt for THG chemist (ESPN article)
Jones and Montgomery named on THG list (ABC Sports)

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