I have some fundamental problems being club doctor at present. This particularly applies to the administration of supplements. Although we have been giving supplements for approximately three months, despite repeated requests as to exactly what we are giving our players and the literature related to this, have at no time been given that until last Sunday [15 January 2012]. Last week the players were given subcutaneous injections, not by myself, and I had no idea that this was happening and also what drug was involved.
It appears to me that in Sydney with Rugby League the clubs do not answer to the governing body (e.g. A.F.L.). It seems that their whole culture is based on trying to beat the system as are close to the edge as one can. It is my belief in A.F.L. that we should be winning flags by keeping a drug free culture.
It is all very well to say this is not banned and that is not banned but for example, the injection that we have given our players subcutaneously, was a drug called AOD/9604, is an Oligomeric Peptide. This drug is derived from the growth hormone.
This molecule has been constructed so it has removed what we call IGF1, which is part of the growth hormone that causes muscle and organ growth and bone length and photosynthesis.
It is at the moment used for fat metabolism but also bone strength in children and may have some side effects that may be beneficial in bone growth. This to me just seem ludicrous at this stage where the only trials I have got are on how to lost weight and fat around the abdomen.
If we are resorting to deliver this altered growth hormone molecule, I think we are playing at the edge and this will read extremely badly in the press for our club and for the benefits and also for side effects that are not known in the long term, I have trouble with all these drugs.
I am still not sure whether AOD/9604 is approved by the drug authorities in Australia at this stage. Just because it is not classified as illegal, doesn’t mean that it can be used freely in the community, it cannot. The other interesting thing about AOD/9604, is that its market in America is in body builders. This also should raise a red flag if we are worried about perception.
When it comes to Actovegin, this has been used around the world for many years. There is some flimsy evidence that it may help in speeding up the healing of tendons when they are damaged, though after speaking to radiologists, the recent opinion is that platelets and one’s own blood, probably does a better job.
We are claiming that we should use it as a recovery agent. To me it seems ludicrous that a few mls of calf’s blood spun down, is going to give you a concentration of growth factors and other factors that would speed up recovery.
I am very frustrated by this and now feel I am letting the club down by not automatically approving of these things. I need to collect my thoughts as these drugs have been given without my knowledge.
I am sure Steve Danks believes that what we are doing is totally ethical and legal, however, one wonders whether if you take a long stance and look at this from a distance, whether you would want your children being injected with a derivative hormone that is not free to the community and whether calf’s blood, that has been used for many years and is still doubted by most doctors, is worth pursuing.
Dr. Bruce Reid
Senior Medical Officer