Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
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# London 2012
Green tea could cloud Olympic doping tests
Scientists say the drink could hide testosterone from the test used to spot it this summer in London.

OLYMPIC DOPING OFFICIALS are considering whether to tweak their tests after a recent British study showed green tea might hide testosterone from the standard test used to spot it.

The study was a test in a lab dish so scientists aren’t sure if the effects will be the same in people. But some experts say the results are intriguing enough that Olympic testing could be updated to include that possibility.

“It’s interesting that something as common as tea could have a significant influence on the steroid profile,” said Olivier Rabin, scientific director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA.

He said other foods and beverages, such as alcohol, are also known to muddle test results.

“We may need to adjust our steroid (test) to allow us to exclude whether a test is modified by food or training or disease, before we can say that it’s doping,” Rabin said. He said they might have to raise their normal threshold for what is a considered a legal amount of testosterone to allow for any such interference.

In the study, researchers added green and white tea extracts — or catechins — to testosterone and tested whether the enzyme that usually detects testosterone in the body could still identify it. Tea seemed to reduce the testosterone concentration by up to 30% and appeared to work best when testosterone was only slightly higher than normal. Similar results have been found in rodent studies, Rabin said.

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Experts say athletes taking testosterone for doping purposes typically have 200 to 300% more in their bodies than normal.

WADA has tight controls on other commonly consumed substances like caffeine. It bans diuretics that could mask drug use and warns athletes about taking nutritional supplements, which could be spiked with banned drugs.

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