Are Athletes Using Green Tea to Mask Testosterone Doping?

Posted by Dr. Michael White, Updated on May 21st, 2020
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Testosterone Doping

Across all the various sports played around the world you'll find athletes who are cheating and trying to hide it. It's inevitable. Everybody wants to win and they want to win now. Not every athlete, of course, but once someone starts cheating and raises the stakes, it's hard to compete without capitulating to cheating as well. Heck, even in the 1930s, trainers were giving their horses cocaine right before a race and jockeys were eating tapeworms to keep their weight down. These days, drug use is the most common form of cheating which includes hormones (steroids) or stimulants.

Especially in male-dominated sports, men want to improve their athletic performance by boosting their testosterone levels. Testosterone is a steroid-based hormone that is naturally produced by both men and women, albeit in much higher concentrations in men. This anabolic steroid plays a major role in muscle development and maintaining bone mass – both a sinewy physique and strong, dense bones are necessary for optimal athletic performance.

Green Tea and Testosterone

And now, athletes may be hiding their testosterone doping with one simple ingredient: green tea. Catching an athlete that is doping before a competition or sporting event is hard enough because testosterone is so ubiquitous in men and naturally produced. The current testing method looks at urine samples for an abnormal ratio of testosterone to another hormone called epitestosterone.

In the blood, testosterone is converted to testosterone glucuronide that is then secreted via urine and used as a marker in the ratio testing mentioned above to detect abuse. The testosterone is converted by an enzyme called UGT2B17. When people drink green or white tea, the catechin compounds (antioxidants) in the tea inhibit this enzyme from doing its job. Without this chemical conversion, the testosterone is not secreted from the body and remains circulating in the blood to various tissues. Thus, boosting testosterone levels and athletic performance. Just drinking green tea alone could boost performance!

The discovery of this enzyme inhibition was discovered by researchers at Kingston University in London, England. Declan Naughton is one of the authors of the study and he stated that “levels from a strong cup of green tea match those we used in our experiments.” Their study extended previous research that looked at inhibition of testosterone glucuronidation by non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac and ibuprofen.

The Future of Sports and Testosterone Abuse

Upon their discovery, Naughton and his partners informed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of their study results. If these results are duplicated and found to be true, then it may be that testing agencies need to test the blood of athletes, rather than their urine. The science director of WADA, Olivier Rabin, says that they are planning on adding regular checks for steroids in the blood to their arsenal of detecting abnormal changes in the physiology. He says this would foil any attempt to cheat the urine test.

Rabin also has his doubts that just drinking tea alone would have much of an effect on athletic performance, especially when compared to athletes who are directly injection testosterone into their bodies. He says, “it would be fairly modest.”

If you are an athlete who is looking to boost your testosterone levels naturally and do not want to go down the route of anabolic steroids, there are other ways to boost than drinking green tea. Explore our website to learn other ways to increase testosterone levels naturally! If you are someone who thinks they may be suffering from a true clinical testosterone deficiency, go ahead and give us a call or write to us using the contact form to learn more about your medical options.

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