The Effect of a Period of Intense Exercise on the Marker Approach to Detect Growth Hormone Doping in Sports

Drug Test Anal. 2014 Jun;6(6):582-6. doi: 10.1002/dta.1666. Epub 2014 May 14.


The major objective of this study was to investigate the effects of several days of intense exercise on the growth hormone marker approach to detect doping with human growth hormone (hGH). In addition we investigated the effect of changes in plasma volume on the test. Fifteen male athletes performed a simulated nine-day cycling stage race. Blood samples were collected twice daily over a period of 15 days (stage race + three days before and after). Plasma volumes were estimated by the optimized CO Rebreathing method. IGF-1 and P-III-NP were analyzed by Siemens Immulite and Cisbio Assays, respectively. All measured GH 2000 scores were far below the published decision limits for an adverse analytical finding. The period of exercise did not increase the GH-scores; however the accompanying effect of the increase in Plasma Volume yielded in essentially lower GH-scores. We could demonstrate that a period of heavy, long-term exercise with changes in plasma volume does not interfere with the decision limits for an adverse analytical finding.

Keywords: GH-score; IGF-1; doping; exercise; hGH; passport; plasma volume.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Carbon Monoxide / administration & dosage
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Male
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Plasma Volume / physiology*
  • Procollagen / analysis
  • Procollagen / metabolism
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Procollagen
  • procollagen Type III-N-terminal peptide
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Carbon Monoxide