As professional athletes are finding testing for performance-enhancing substances becoming more and more sophisticated, those looking to gain an unfair advantage may look to new sources in an effort to beat the system.
So, while figures in baseball such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian McNamee, and Greg Anderson have made names like Winstrol, human-growth hormone, and the "clear" and the "cream" part of the sports lexicon, myostatin blockers may be the next PED of choice for some in MLB.
As reported by Bloomberg, myostatin – a protein in the body – and the blocking of it, is seen as a possible wonder drug for those afflicted with diseases, such as muscular dystrophy. These new drugs have the ability to spur muscle growth and address atrophy.
It is those properties that would be appealing to athletes looking to gain unfair advantage as the blocking of myostatin is non-steroidal.
Agencies that police sports for performance-enhancing substances say myostatin blockers may reach athletes as soon as this year's Olympics and certainly by 2012. The World Anti-Doping Agency has banned them even before they have been fully tested. Meanwhile, that group and sports organizations including Major League Baseball are monitoring other treatments known as gene doping, in which cells are reprogrammed to enlarge muscles.
As further reported, the reason that myostatin blockers and other possible forms of genetic reprogramming may become tempting for those looking to cheat is “because they are injected directly into the targeted tissues and could be designed not to show up in urine and blood tests, researchers say.”
If this all sounds like some far off designer drug, the fact is, they are being experimented with by athletes already, regardless of the dangers of using substances not fully tested for side-effects. As mentioned, one scientist received an email from a Brazilian bodybuilder about myostatin inhibitors.
“I was explaining that we were still in the testing phases and that a drug Wyeth has in trials, and he interrupted me and said, `MYO-029?''' [Dr. Se-Jin Lee, of Johns Hopkins University] said during an interview at his laboratory. “He said, `I have some right here. I just want to know if it's safe to take.’”