â€œFIS President Gian Franco Kasper attended the meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on September 22nd-23rd, 2007, in Montreal (CAN). This was the last meeting of the Executive Committee â€” WADA's ultimate policy-making body â€” prior to the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport, to be held on 15th-17th November in Madrid (SPA).
Most notably, the Executive Committee approved the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods for 2008. The 2008 List includes some changes compared to the 2007 List. For example, the 2008 List will include new classes of substances such as selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), a family of nonsteroidal molecules that has the same effect as anabolic steroids, and agents modifying myostatin functions including but not limited to myostatin inhibitors. The Executive Committee also approved amending the prohibition of intravenous infusions so that intravenous infusions are not permitted except in the treatment of acute medical conditions. The new List will be published online by October 1, 2007.
The Executive Committee was also consulted on the third draft revision of the World Anti-Doping Code to be published on 15th October, 2007, and to be discussed and approved in November. Other items included WADA’s draft 2008 budget and its US$ 5.6 million scientific research program for 2007 as well as a preliminary report on the compliance of International Federations and Anti-Doping Organizations with the Code. The first official report is due in November 2008.â€
What This Means…
FasterSkier.com did a little research into these additions to the List of Prohibited Substances. Here’s a brief explanation of what SARMs and myostatin inhibitors are, and why WADA cares about them.
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARMs):
An androgen is a male sex hormone (such as testosterone). Androgens bind to androgen receptors on the surface of certain cells, and initiate certain cellular processes. In a medical setting, SARMs may prove to be effective and safe ways to treat hypogonadic men (who suffer from inadequate amounts of the male sex hormones); testosterone is prescribed with caution because it can be both ineffective and very dangerous.
The â€œselective receptor modulatorâ€ part of the name refers to the fact that a SARM molecule can activate certain androgen receptors without affecting others. Effectively, SARMs have a lot of the desirable effects of testosterone without as many of the dangerous ones: athletes could conceivably build strength, and increase muscle mass and bone density, without jeopardizing their health in the same way. (Note: potential side effects from testosterone therapy/doping includes: prostate disorders, liver complications, hair loss, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and gynecomastia (when men develop breasts).
Notably, SARMs are not steroids; they simply modify the cell receptors to which steroids bind. Additionally, they are relatively new compounds; it would appear that WADA is incorporating SARMs into its prohibited list as a preventive measure. Reliable doping tests are currently in development.
WADA says: â€œThe Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have been included in this section. This novel family of nonsteroidal molecules has been identified as being selective and specific for the androgen receptor. Therapeutic SARMs are currently being developed for the treatment of muscle wasting diseases and androgen replacement therapies. Based upon their mechanisms of action and early clinical results in humans, these compounds have the potential to be used as doping substances.â€
Myostatin is a protein produced by human tissues that acts to regulate/inhibit muscle growth. Myostatin inhibitors allow muscles to grow, and grow, and grow, without their normal regulation. A research experiment was performed on mice whose myostatin genes had been disabled; they turned into â€œSchwarzenegger mice.â€ Therefore if athletes took these myostatin inhibitors, it follows that they could bulk up big time. There are many legitimate medical applications â€” myostatin inhibitors are used to treat people who have muscle-wasting disorders, like muscular dystrophy, or problems with muscle atrophy. As with SARMs, it is unclear whether any athletes are currently using myostatin inhibitors, but WADA wants to ensure that they don’t start.
Editor’s note: If any of you want to know more details about SARMs, myostatin inhibitors, and really any health-related topics, you should know about the NIH’s public access research database, PubMed. You can research anything (as long as it’s somehow related to health) as easily as you can search via Google, but the results have the added benefit of being peer-reviewed science. Most results are abstracts, but some have free full text as well. Check out http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez.
For WADA’s 2008 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods:
For an explanation of changes to the WADA’s 2008 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods:
Sources: FIS, WADA, NIH