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Future Doping Protocol

Tony Dziepak, November 1999, revised February 2002. The author welcomes comments.
The future doping protocol will actually be spawned by the participation of masters athletes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been shown to be beneficial to the health of some older men and women who experience a drop in hormone production. HRT may prevent osteoperosis, maintain physical vitality, treat post-menopausal symptons and reduce depression. More than that, HRT is sometimes considered medically necessary for patients of all ages who have loss of hormones due to abnormality, cancer, or other disease.

Unfortunately, certain HRT drugs are banned by the IOC and sports governing bodies. Currently, the IOC cannot allow athletes to take HRT because it would interfere with their ability to enforce its current drug policy. Urine tests cannot distinguish between the the athlete with normal hormone levels from a deficient patient. And it cannot determine what dosage a person is using. A preson deficient in testosterone is very due to disease or cancer is rarely involved in elite-level sports. So the minority of deficient individuals, along with masters athletes, must choose between participation in his sport or the advice of his doctor to use HRT to maintain health.

How ridiculous, yest how common it may be a few years be when, in the 70-79 age group, we may have frail athletes that must forego their doctor's advice of HRT to participate in the shot put, and yet there are vigorous men and women in the stands on HRT that could pick up the shot and beat them all. The solution to this situation is a new drug protocol to allow supplementation via HRT by athletes with below-normal hormone levels up to the normal levels according to age. Here's how it will work:

First, normal hormone levels (a range) must be established according to age. Athletes that have below normal hormone levels (about 1/6 of the population) would be eligible to compete and use HRT (although some may choose not to). Athletes with normal or above normal hormone levels cannot participate in the HRT protocol; they will be required to follow the current drug protocol.

Athletes on HRT must register with a new HRT independent board, and submit a note from physician that the patient is naturally below normal in hormone levels (along with blood test), and that the patient is taking the HRT for health reasons; not just to improve athletic performance, and that, at the perscribed medication(s) and dosage, the medical benefits exceed the risks. The HRT board can review all athlete's blood tests by request.

HRT must be administered so as to not exceed normal levels and are monitored by blood tests. These blood test results are performed by independent labs through the patient's (or insurer's) expense, and results are submitted to the HRT monitoring board. A pamphlet, educating athletes and physicians, will list the levels a patient must test to be eligible for HRT protocol, the level above which will render the athlete ineligible,

There will be some flexibility to allow for trial and error to get the right dosage, but an athlete might be ineligible for short periods if hormone levels are too high (maybe a month or until the next test). There will be more severe sanctions for repeated high results or for extremely high results. The athlete is responsible for achieving eligible blood levels.

Athletes on HRT are only allowed to test positive for perscribed hormones. For example, if they are taking testosterone patches, they are still required to test negative for other banned substances under the current protocol.

Male and female athletes of all ages (youth, juniors, seniors, and masters) are eligible for the HRT protocol. Males with testicular cancer and females with androgen abnormalities will be able to get the therapy they need for health. The new protocol directs the athlete to proper physician's supervision. The new protocol will be inexpensive because blood tests are conducted under the athlete's own health care.

Masters athletes in particular, but also athletes of all ages that may have an interest in athletics, but difficulty in participating due to hormone deficiency, will now be able to compete on a level playing field. Yet at the same time, the necessary controls are there to prevent abuse of the protocol, and the existing protocol is also maintained.

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