Human growth hormone is a muscle-pumping superdrug that can turn the worst athlete into a gold medallist but it is poisoning British sport and experts fear it will sweep London’s 2012 Olympics because it is almost impossible to detect.
Now athletes, rugby players, boxers, cyclists and weightlifters are buying HGH on the black market, a Daily Star Sunday investigation can reveal.
Last month former rugby ace Terry Newton, was found hanged after becoming the only athlete to be banned for taking the performance-enhancing substance.
And just weeks after his death we bought some in a dodgy back-street deal.
Our investigator paid £200 for a five-week course of the powder plus needles.
We were told to mix it with sterilised water and inject it into pinched fat in the stomach. The dealer in Manchester told us: “This is the real deal.
“Take this regularly, starting with this five-week course, and you’ll see massive differences. You’ll have bigger muscles, reduced body fat, higher energy levels, better skin and you’ll generally feel better.”
Our source, a 35-year-old gym instructor, then reeled off a list of sporting clients.
“I’ve got pro cyclists, athletes and boxers buying it from me. Then obviously you’ve got your bodybuilders who want it and a few rugby players too.
“I’d say about ten of the punters are amateur rugby league players in the North West.”
Rugby league star Newton, a hooker for Wakefield Wildcats, injected himself 20 times a month. He was found hanged in his garage just feet from where he stashed the drugs that sent him on the road to ruin. Terry, who died aged 31, was the first person in the world to test positive for HGH.
He was seven months into a two-year ban when he died last month.
The Wigan-born player had admitted: “I can’t believe I allowed myself to be seduced by something that promised me so much, when in the end it’s taken so much.” But despite Newton’s tragic story UK sportsmen are continuing to use HGH.
Scientists have proved the drug can improve a sprinter’s 100-metre time by up to 0.4 seconds. A 23-year-old sprinter, who runs for an athletics club in Manchester, told us: “I’ve been taking HGH for a good year now and improved my track time no end.
“I don’t think I could have smashed my personal best without the gear.”
But researchers have found the drug can cause serious complications. Heart disease, diabetes, fluid retention, breast enlargement in men and even erection problems and loss of libido have all been linked with HGH.
The fear for the London 2012 Games is that cheats may avoid getting caught because, to stand any chance of detecting the drug, tests have to be done within 24 hours of an athlete taking it.
Professor Peter Sonksen, an expert in growth hormone who has spent ten years researching a more effective test for HGH in sport, said: “Evidence suggests HGH is widely abused in sport and we just can’t catch them at the moment.
“It is a body-altering hormone which is much more potent than anabolic steroids and makes people massive. Those using it have a huge advantage over others. They become super-powerful.”
“Another test is in the pipeline which I helped develop, which will be much better at spotting HGH but at the moment it isn’t being used.
“I’m convinced that when it is put into use it will be able to rout the cheats from the sport – at least far more of them than at present.”
Michael Stow, head of science and medicine at UK Anti-Doping, which runs Britain’s anti-drug policy, highlighted the dangers.
He said: “It makes body parts grow, such as jaws and bones.
“You can end up looking like you suffer from gigantism. It’s a terrible thing to get involved with on a physical level – let alone the fact it makes you a cheat.”