HGH part of Waterloo steroid scandal

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:54 PM ET

TORONTO -- Waterloo Warriors rookie running back Matt Socholotiuk has made North American sports history.

It's for a record, though, no one wants to hold.

The Waterford, Ont., football player became the first athlete to be tested, caught and punished for using human growth hormone (HGH) after his March 31 blood sample turned up positive for the skeleton-growing substance allegedly linked to home-run king Barry Bonds.

Socholotiuk received a three-year suspension for infractions that included HGH and a urine sample that found illegal levels of testosterone. The revelation was part of a Canadian Centre for Ethics update involving four of the nine Waterloo drug cheats caught in a steroid scandal that forced the university to suspend the program for the 2010 season.

Third-year centre and Londoner Spencer Zimmerman-Cryer (Oral-Turinabol), rookie receiver Aubrey Jesseau (Stanazolol) from Thunder Bay and Kitchener linebacker Brandon Krukowski, who refused to be tested March 31, were also named as anti-doping violators.

CCES president Paul Melia renewed the cry that pro sports -- the NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball -- follow the Canadian Football League's lead and start testing for HGH.

"It's tragic and alarming," CCES president Paul Melia said. "We have suspected that HGH has been abused. These weren't young athletes using over the counter medication. They (pro sports) need to stop sending a mixed message it's OK to cheat and risk your health to set records and win at all costs."

Back in the spring, the CCES attempted to collected 62 urine samples and 20 blood tests at Waterloo. The positive HGH finding stands to usher in a whole new level of drug justice in Canadian sports.

"We now have the proof," Melia said. "This is a very serious situation. We would love to test every football team in the country on a no-notice basis. We need the resources to continue the detection and deterrence of doping, as well as education for our young athletes."

Testing for HGH, however, is costly. One kit, which can handle 12 blood samples, runs in excess of $1,200.

"My heart breaks whenever I hear someone say that it's too expensive," said Prof. Christiane Ayotte, who runs the doping control laboratory at the Institute Armand-Frappier in Laval. "This shouldn't be about cost. It's about fair play in sports and protecting health and well-being."

HGH use is also a difficult violation to catch. Normally, the test needs to be done within 24-36 hours of injection.

The CCES answer, for now, is to beef up on surprise, target testing.

"We have over 80 experts living in different areas around Canada and they can go into a school and test on short notice," Melia said. "We want to be able to surprise test. We suspected the use of HGH, we tested and we were right in this case. The more information we have, the better. We monitor the athletes and we want to know how much they're bench-pressing, how fast they run the 40 (yard dash) and follow their performance.

"When we see a dramatic increase, that's going to raise some questions and that's someone we're going to be interested in testing."

Score four touchdowns in one game a year after barely making the team? Graduate from sideline scrub into sudden all-star sackmaster?

These kind of rags-to-riches pigskin stories are now on the CCES's radar.

"That's the tragedy of doping in sports," Melia said. "You turn on talk radio and hear about a guy (Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista) hitting 50 home runs who's never hit more than 16 before and it makes you wonder what's going on -- even if he's doing it naturally.

"That's why testing is so important, to strive towards that level playing field. With HGH, the week before competition is critical. With the Olympic athletes, they have to let us know where they are at all times to the hour and if they don't, that's considered a no-show.

"Three no-shows and that's a violation."

Melia expects more blood tests, which have been considered more invasive than urine samples, to be part of the Canadian university menu moving forward.

Before Waterloo submitted to full-team testing, university football drug cheats had little reason to be scared.

Now, they'll have to at least look over their shoulders.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca - twitter.com/ryanpyette

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Human growth hormone (HGH): synthesized and secreted by cells in the pituitary gland. Known to act on many aspects of cellular metabolism and is also necessary for skeletal growth. Major role of HGH in body growth is to stimulate the liver and other tissues to secrete insulin-like growth factor. This stimulates production of cartilage cells, resulting in bone growth and also plays a key role in muscle and organ growth. Possible side effects include diabetes, worsening of cardiovascular diseases, muscle, joint and bone pain, hypertension and cardiac deficiency, abnormal growth of organs and accelerated osteoarthritis.


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