Are Parents Becoming Pushers, US Coaches Asked

[Photo: Aniko Kovacs]

American swim coaches gathered for their annual conference in New Orleans have received a dire warning about the suspected use of banned substances, including Human Growth Hormone, among young athletes in the United States as a consequence of a social fashion among the swimmers’ parents to use drugs forbidden in sport in their pursuit of youthful looks; the cost challenge for WADA, national agencies and international federations

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“For example, many of the tests taken for swimming at the World Championships in Barcelona this summer do not extend to searching for HGH”

I’d be curious as to the details of why all of them weren’t tested for HGH. They’ve been using a scientifically sound test since 2004. How do they decide who is tested for it and who isn’t?

Swimming Mom

Do they only do urine tests at these meets and for athletes in between meets? I have heard that some of the drugs can only be detected in blood tests, is this true? Hence, quite a few not being caught?

Craig Lord

Swimming Mom: No, they do urine and some blood. Yes, some things can only be detected with blood … the biological passport relies on seeing abnormalities in a ‘blood’ profile, for example… whether urine or blood, the lab is then instructed to test from a list of things… tests can de conducted to search for all things on the list but the costs of the analysis goes up and authorities can ask labs to test for A, C D and but lave out F, G H and X (doesn’t quit work like that but just to give you an idea of the type of mechanism)

Craig Lord

KeithM: It is possible that none of them were tested for HGH… I understand that ‘many’ were not… I can’t say how they decide which test is “full” and which is “selective”, so to speak.


I find it disturbing and disappointing that John Leonard implies that there is a correlation between the rise of NAG records and child doping.

Perhaps there are more genetic beasts because USA Swimming has seen a 45% growth in membership over the last 10 years. Perhaps there are more records because of the increase in full time coaching positions (as opposed to part time or volunteer coaches 10 years ago). Perhaps there are more records because of the increased sharing of knowledge and coach education.

Craig Lord

Coach: I think the things you mention are real and have an impact (and I have seen papers with John Leonard’s name on them noting as much) but I don’t think they are as significant as the kind of advances we are starting to see … the numbers are yet to be confirmed and it will be interesting to see if they confirm a tidal shift … the first draft I’ve seen indicates something that might well be described as an off-the-chart rise … Amy Shipley’s research is disturbing and although not directly liked to swimming raises a cultural problem, and such things tend to spill beyond their own shores… swimming is not exempt from general trends. I believe that it is ASCA’s job (and that of all organisations with a responsibility as guardians of very young people) to watch for warning signs and raise issues. The proliferation of world (world juniors, youth olympics etc) meets for which national teams are selected etc is also raising pressure for programs to get their kids to perform earlier, I believe.

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