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Tea can Mask Illegal Doping

tea in sports doping


A new research carried out under the leadership of Professor Declan Naughton from the University’s School of Life Sciences has found that drinking green and white teas can mask illegal doping by reducing the amount of performance enhancing steroids in the urine. The research which has been published just before the London Olympics is sure to ruffle feathers at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Until now, WADA has relied on testing urine samples of the athletes to detect the presence of any performance enhancing steroids. But now, it is planning to add regular blood sampling in addition to the routine urine sampling to detect any drug abuse by the athletes. The report has been published in the recent issue of the journal Steroids.
Athletes commonly use anabolic steroid testosterone to increase their athletic performance and boost their muscle growth. An enzyme, called as UDP- glucoronosyl transferase (UGT2B17) present in the body leads to the glucoronidation of testosterone to testosterone glucoronide which is subsequently excreted in the urine. It is this chemical which is marked in the urine sample of the athletes to find out if they have taken illegal steroid testosterone.
 If somehow, the glucoronidation of testosterone is inhibited, the hormone stays longer in circulation and helps in enhancing the athlete’s performance. It is already known that non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac and ibuprofen inhibit the action of UGT2B17 enzyme. The new study has found out that compounds called as catechins, especially epicatechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and catechin gallate which are present in teas, also inhibit the action of this particular enzyme. It is to be noted that these catechins are found mainly in green and white teas and are absent in black tea. So, if an athlete drinks specific amount of these teas, he can inhibit up to 30% of UGT2B17 enzyme, which implies that he can mask illegal doping.
According to Professor Naughton, the new blood test that WADA is contemplating would not be sufficient. Ideal choice would be a hair sample because substances stay for a longer duration in hair before being metabolized and catechins present in teas do not affect them. He has stated that at present his results are lab-based, but in case they hold true in human bodies, it can have tremendous implications in the field of sports.
Thursday, December 3, 2015