Sonksen: HGH test unlikely for Sydney Games

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Continued delays in International Olympic Committee funding meant a test for human growth hormone was unlikely to be in place for the Sydney Games, a leading researcher said today.

Continued delays in International Olympic Committee funding meant a test for human growth hormone was unlikely to be in place for the Sydney Games, a leading researcher said today.

London-based Professor Peter Sonksen said his HGH2000 project team needed another 5 million US dollars from the IOC immediately if it was to validate a test for the banned substance by next September.

The initial stage of HGH2000 was jointly-funded by the IOC and the European Union with the objective of finding a test for synthetic HGH in time for the Sydney Olympics.

"We completed our project on time and within budget in January and here we are on the first of November and we've seen no movement," Sonksen told reporters after addressing the fifth IOC Sports Sciences Congress.

"We're very enthusiastic to get on with the validation," he

The IOC promised in February to spend a further 25 million US dollars on anti-doping research, but had yet to decide which groups to fund, Sonksen said.

Bickering about the proposed new International Anti-Doping Agency was costing groups such as HGH2000 valuable research time, he said.

IOC medical commission chairman Prince Alexandre de Merode on Monday all but ruled out a HGH test being in place for Sydney.

In a statement, he said the IOC had convened a meeting of legal and medical experts in March who found that a scientifically and legally acceptable test was two or three than white Europeans, who had dominated its early work.

HGH2000 had tested 700 athletes and needed to work with another 300 from different ethnic and gender backgrounds.

A major hurdle for HGH2000 and groups researching the banned peptide hormone erythropoietin (EPO) is that they can only be detected by blood tests, which are currently banned by the IOC.

Sonksen said that much would be gained even if blood tests were introduced only for research purposes at the Sydney Games.

But Australian sports medicine expert Ken Fitch said it was imperative that blood tests for substances such as HGH and EPO only be introduced when they were foolproof.

"One of the worst things we could do is bring in a test ... and have it defeated in the courts which would set us back two or three years," Prof. Fitch said.

An EPO trial conducted by the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory and the Australian Institute of Sport is also seeking extra funding for validation from Australia's federal government.

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