Losing Olympic Gold From Hair Gel?
By Matthew Brown | August 11th 2008 05:28 PM | Print | E-mail
Schwarzkopf, makers of the gÖt2b line of hair care products, have introduced a hair gel called “gÖt2b Magnetik, With Phermones.” This hair gel contains a substance banned for use in international competition both inside and outside of the competitive season and could result in an athlete failing a drug test. In the worst case, use of this product could result in an athlete losing an Olympic gold medal. Why? The product contains androstadienone, a precursor of testosterone that is listed as a banned substance by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Androstadienone, the pheromone ingredient, is a precursor to testosterone, and as such it may have testosterone-like effects. Since these effects may be anabolic, it is listed on the USADA anabolic list. Pheromones are biochemicals produced by animals which elicit physiological or behavioral responses in other members of the same species. Whether these biochemicals play a role in the sexual or reproductive behavior of humans remains controversial, but nevertheless some manufacturers have still included pheromones in certain consumer products, such as fragrance. Frédéric Donzé, a spokesman for the World Anti-Doping Agency, explained that, “the absorption of such substance by hair is extremely low, if not null." However, there is still the possibility that an adverse analytical finding could result. Donzé explained that,"should an athlete argue that a substance contained in a hair gel caused an adverse analytical finding, subsequent excretion studies would allow to check whether that argument would be valid or not in the particular case.” While it is unlikely that androstadienone would provide physiological benefits in elite performance, the substance is still banned by USADA. Moreover, if a substance appears on this list, it is a compound for which doping agencies are specifically testing. Ashley Anderson, a Pharmacist at the United States Anti-Doping Agency, explained that “if they did test positive, of course they would scrutinize it and review where the substance came from and make the individual decision based on the individual case. But there is the potential that performance gains could be linked to the anabolic agent.” In the past, athletes have even failed drug tests for using over-the-counter cough syrup or decongestants with small amounts of banned substances. USADA, as well as both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have strict liability rules which hold athletes accountable for banned substances regardless of whether they knew they were taking them. It is the athlete’s own responsibility to be aware of all the products that they are using, and the potential for those products to be absorbed or ingested. “I actually have athletes calling me and reading a list of their cleaning products to me to make sure they’re safe,” says Ms. Anderson. Schwarzkopf hair care products, makers of the hair gel, had not returned phone calls or e-mails for a comment.
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