The four-year suspension of Matt Socholotiuk, the rookie running back at Ontario's University of Waterloo who was revealed this week to have tested positive for human growth hormone, has been reduced to three years. Socholotiuk is believed to be the first North American athlete caught with HGH in his system. "We have suspected HGH has been abused by certain athletes in an effort to cheat," Paul Melia, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, said in a statement. "We now have the proof. However, it is alarming and of great concern that its presence has been detected with our young athletes."
Only five athletes in the world have been caught and sanctioned for HGH use, according to the Toronto Sun.
Socholotiuk was tested in March, along with 61 other members of the Waterloo Warriors. After nine players were suspected of doping infractions in what has been billed as the biggest steroids investigation in Canadian university history, Waterloo suspended its football program in June for one year.
Socholotiuk, who is not registered to attend Waterloo this semester, was quoted as saying at a hearing decision on his suspension that the blood test for HGH is "very unreliable." He also reportedly told an arbitrator that he didn't know the testosterone he took was banned, and that he feels "ashamed and embarrassed."
The breakthrough findings should prompt professional sports leagues to impose HGH testing, Melia told Toronto Star reporter Robert Cribb. They should "accept their social responsibility and take full advantage of the powerful role they can play in the fight against doping in sports. They need to stop sending a mixed message to our children ... that it is okay to cheat and to risk your health to set records and pursue winning at any cost."
The Canadian Football League recently became the first professional sports league in North America to test for HGH, and Major League Baseball implemented HGH testing at the minor-league level in July.