The research was carried out by sports scientist Dr. Robert Weatherby of Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.
Eighteen male amateur athletes from around the English-speaking world were housed – Big Brother style – at the university and put on a six-week training regime. Nine of the young men were given weekly buttock-injected testosterone enanthate at a dose of 3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight and nine were given a placebo.
In the TV programme, the young men were shown competing in ‘mini-Olympics’ for the cameras but the real work was done in the sports lab, with boffins measuring strength, power and stamina gains as well as tracking body weight and mood swings.
Weatherby said: "There have been lots of papers published by people saying "I took a steroid. And look, I got better performance". But we didn’t have the ability to say yes, we’re quite sure, scientifically, that that is in fact the truth."
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There’s a critique for the TV programme here:
Surprisingly, despite naming many track athletes as dopers, the programme never featured cycle-sport once, perhaps because the banned substance being tested was an anabolic steroid rather than a blood booster such as EPO?
Intererestingly, the programme also delved – briefly – into the ethics of doping. One expert said society’s view of performance enhancement has changed greatly in the last 80 years. In the ealry part of the 20th century, training was seen as a form of cheating.
Now, the use of running spikes for track athletes is a given. Twenty years ago the use of spikes was also seen as a form of cheating.
And the use of altitude chambers by athletes is not banned by WADA yet they can do exactly the same job to blood as substances on the prohibited doping-methods list.