BSE fear over athletes' growth hormones


A report in a Swedish medical journal says that athletes who used the muscle-building hormones, which contain extracts taken from cows, risked contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The issue came to light when Sweden's national forensic laboratory SKL refused to analyse seized samples of cow-based growth hormones for athletes for fear that their scientists might contract mad cow disease.

We have a policy of declining to handle such samples, TT news agency quoted SKL Assistant Director Tore Olsson as saying. These tests require protective equipment which we just do not have.

The lab testing issue arose when the SKL was asked to test a shipment seized at Swedish customs which was suspected to be growth hormones from eastern Europe.

Public concern over mad cow disease is high in Sweden and beef consumption has fallen on reports of the deadly brain wasting disease spreading across Europe.

However no cases of BSE have yet been reported in Sweden, which stopped using animal-based feeds thought to propagate the disease long before the rest of Europe.