The more you hear about Actovegin, you wonder why it isn't banned. It got me thinking. Evidence continues to reinforce that Actovegin is a widely used drug for endurance sports, and has been for a long time. Armstrong, Hamilton and US Postal were using it (though it's banned in the US). Manzana & Kelme were using it (referring to it as the 'gas bus'). It was found in Gabriela Szabo's car boot. It was recently found among the drugs in Jama Aden's stash. And of course, whiter than white Paula was using it.
The argument goes (and has done for the past 15 years) that the drug has no proven ergogenic effects and that 'more research should be done'. People quote studies which demonstrate this like this one:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22318562 (which is surely the worst ever trial to measure peak aerobic capacity)
and this one:
This latest article also criticises a study done in Denmark which weakly suggested the opposite (which also says that 'more research is needed' - comically, Actovegin is banned in Denmark)
What caught my interest was that all the studies that are out there that reinforce the claim that actovegin is not ergogenic (these are the ones quoted in any discussion on the subject) are done by a guy called Paul Yuh Fung Lee, based in Cardiff. And I'm wondering if he has a conflict of interest in actovegin not being banned. First of all, he works for the 'Actovegin Research Group' in Cardiff University. He's involved with using Actovegin to treat muscle injuries (one of the papers references the study (another crap one, scientifically) done with Cardiff City Football players) and gives a positive spin to its effects here. And digging around a bit, he's the Director of two companies, called 'Actosports Ltd' and 'Actohealth Ltd'. No idea what they do, but the names suggest some kind of commercial spin on Actovegin, in some form of other. The main point anyway, is that this guy seems to be virtually the single source for 'official' Actovegin research, and he doesn't seem to take a very objective view on the matter.
Where is WADA in all of this? How have they come to the conclusion that Actovegin is not a PED? I prefer to look at the actual empirical evidence in front of us which is that endurance athletes have done, and continue to use Actovegin as a PED. The flip side argument to this is that this is just anecdotal evidence, and that there is no evidence that Actovegin has ergogenic effects. To which I would reply:
i) see the argument above about this 'evidence'
ii) do we really think that athletes/coaches/teams/federations aren't doing there own research about the effectiveness of Actovegin and its effect on blood values and performance? Whilst WADA waits 15 years for 'more research', athletes are using it and 'testing' it the whole time! Healing Hans is as dodgy as you like, but he's not an idiot, and he knows that it works (and we can rest assured that he is not just sticking a finger in the air and 'hoping' that it works)
Actovegin, the new Meldonium. Apologies for repetition, as I know there's been other Actovegin threads, but thought this was something a bit new.