By Timothy Jensen
A drug used by professional athletes has been declared unsafe and has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration.
Tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG, was originally claimed safe and was used by athletes to improve their performance. THG is said to help athletes increase intensity in their workouts and increase their physical size and strength. Many athletes, especially in Major League Baseball, have been reported to use this product.
“Under federal law it has to be approved by the FDA,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, a physician and professor of NYU school of medicine and fellow of American College of Sports Medicine. “This means it has to be safe, effective and pure. So, it has failed on all three accounts.”
Wadler said there is no evidence that THG is pure because the drug is made in a bathtub, a place obviously not sterile. The drug is not effective because it has no medical purposes, and the drug”s safety is questionable because there have been no scientific studies on it, Wadler said.
“Our mission is to protect the American public from this potentially harmful product,” said FDA”s associate commissioner of regulatory, affairs, John Taylor, in a press release.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said THG is a synthetic designer steroid derived by simple chemical modification from two other anabolic steroids: gestrinone and trenbolone. These steroids are taken to build muscle mass, but they also have serious long-term health consequences such as damage to liver, heart disease and anxiety.
The American College of Sports Medicine stated that the serious consequences of the drug are sudden death, increase of bad cholesterol, tendon injuries, testicular atrophy, abnormal enlargement of breasts in males, loss of sperm, high-pitched voice, male pattern baldness, severe acne, premature closure of growth plates and emotional disturbances.
“All anabolic steroids are a synthetic derivative of the male hormone testosterone,” Wadler said. “In a male after a period of time, he will basically be femenized because testosterone is converted to the female hormone estrogen.”
Anabolic steroids increase muscle strength and encourage muscle growth, duplicating the effects of the male sex hormone testosterone.
The FDA is working with other federal law enforcement agencies to prosecute those companies or individuals who manufacture, distribute or market THG.