Olympic doping tests may have to be tightened after study finds that green tea could help cheats
Extracts shown to reduce testosterone concentrations by up to 30%Scientific director of World
Anti-Doping Agency says changes could be necessary
17:12 GMT, 6 April 2012
Green tea can help mask the levels of testosterone in the body, say scientists.
A study found extracts contained in the beverage, reduced concentrations of the hormone by up to 30 per cent.
Olympic doping officials have now raised
concerns that athletes could use tea to hide increased levels of testosterone from standard drugs tests.
A study found green tea helped reduce the concentration of testosterone
Testosterone is one of the oldest illegal steroids used in sports, and it is commonly used to build muscle.
Experts say athletes taking testosterone for doping purposes typically have 200 to 300 percent more in their bodies than normal.
During the study, researchers added green
and white tea extracts – or catechins – to the hormone and discovered that they reduced the concentration by almost a third.
The recent anomaly could now lead to a change in the tests ahead of this summer's Games.
Olivier Rabin, scientific director of the World
Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA said: 'It's interesting that something as
common as tea could have a significant influence on the steroid
'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,'
Olympic sprinter, Ben Johnson, was banned from athletics for life after failing a drugs test for the second time in 1993
The study was conducted in a laboratory so
scientists said it was too early to tell what the effect of green tea
might be in humans, but similar results have
been found in rodent studies.
Other foods and beverages, such as alcohol, are also known to muddle test results and WADA has tight controls on other commonly consumed substances like caffeine.
no reason to think we just happened to pick the only food in the world
that does this,' said Declan Naughton of Kingston University, who
published the findings in the journal,
Charles Yesalis, a doping expert at Pennsylvania State University, said officials needed to react quickly.
will not wait for the clinical trials,' he said. 'I'll bet there are
already lots of athletes out there drinking loads of green tea,' he
However some experts said the limited effects
of foods like green tea on masking illegal drug use would be too small
to help doping athletes.
'You would probably need to drink the
tea continuously to get any sustained but minor effect,' said Andrew
Kicman, head of research and development at the Drug Control Centre at
King's College London, which is providing the anti-doping laboratory for
the upcoming Olympics.
would be a very foolish athlete who's thinking of doping with
testosterone and thinks he could drink white or green tea to beat a drug
test,' he said. 'And I personally wouldn't want to drink nine cups of
tea on the day of a race.'
The new facility in Harlow, Essex is where the athletes samples will be tested
Studies have shown that tea can mask testosterone concentration