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Breakthrough in hGH testing

UK anti-doping chiefs have hailed rugby league player Terry Newton's test for human growth hormone (hGH) as a major breakthrough.

Newton is the first sports star in the world to have had hGH analysed from a blood sample -- he accepted the charge last week and was banned for two years.

Anti-doping officials have been trying to develop a successful test for hGH for decades, which has a similar effect to steroids but, because it is also produced in the body, has been difficult to detect.

Many athletes in the past have been suspected of using the hormone, and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) chief executive Andy Parkinson said: "This is a landmark in the fight against doping. Athletes using hGH should take Newton's experience as a stern warning -- if you use hGH you will not get away with it."

UKAD and the drug-testing laboratory at King's College's Drug Control Centre in London worked closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) throughout the process.

WADA director general David Howman said: "This first completed case sends a strong message to those athletes who take the risk to misuse hGH that we will catch them."