In the past week ‘peptides’ moved out of the shadows into regular Australian lexicon.
The Australian Crime Commission named peptides as one of the notable substances being used by professional athletes when they produced the report ‘Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport’ on the now infamous “darkest day” in Australian sport.
The ACC suspected that “widespread use of peptides has been identified, or is suspected… in a number of professional sporting codes.”
So what are they?
Peptides are a small chain of amino acids that isn’t quite long enough to be considered a full protein (less than 50 units).
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They are, in essence, the building blocks that create protein.
In a supplement form peptides come in different chemical compounds. The ones the ACC report identifies as being used within the Australian sporting community are known as GHRP-2, GHRP-6 and CJC-1295.
IGF, MGF and SARMs are identified by the ACC as commonly used peptides used in the bodybuilding community.
The next big question to consider is why an athlete would consider using peptides.
Peptides are used for their anabolic effect on an athlete’s muscle mass. (GHRP means growth hormone releasing hexapeptide, a type of growth hormone releasing hormone).
This can be useful in a couple of ways.
Obviously an athlete will need to heal quickly and be productive soon after an injury. Peptides will help the muscle or soft tissue in this rebuilding healing process.
Supplements that provide an anabolic effect could also be used during pre-season and other periods where building muscle mass is important.
Muscle mass can be built quickly because the athlete can make small tears in a muscle and have it heal on a rapid schedule to continuously repeat the process – the end effect being increased muscle mass and reduced body fat in a shorter timeframe.
The bodybuilding community use peptides that are most effective in this second way as newer peptides don’t come with the side-effects of anabolic steroids.
It is the links to bodybuilding and gym communities that help pro-athletes find new substances such as peptides to improve performance.
For some time now, the bodybuilding community has been aware of these supplements and the inability for testing to detect them in most cases.
This is especially the case if urine testing is the main form of detection.
Many peptides aren’t yet cleared for human use.
In fact, quickly perusing the peptide Wikipedia page , as this reporter did immediately after reading the ACC report, reveals they are mostly discussed in a scientific manner, not with reference to sports.
However, peptides are readily available on the sporting supplement market and aren’t very expensive.
Oddly enough, two peptide websites that come up quickly on a simple google search aren’t operational. Scientific Peptides is closed for maintenance and Premium Peptides shows a server error.
They would have to be missing out on the biggest peptides boom in the history of the supplement industry with all the recent focus on their attributes.
Now we know what peptides are and what they can be used for.
The real issues are how many athletes have been using them and whether the ACC, ASADA and the police can catch the ones who have.