First, it needs to be clearly stated that Scottish Masters Athletics International, NFP, (SMAI), while not equipped to test athletes at its Masters World Championships for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), condemns the use of such drugs and has, in the past, denied records to athletes who have tested positive in competitions sponsored by other athletic organizations. However, in light of established medical knowledge, SMAI has decided to take a position on the subject of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for athletes participating in its sponsored Masters World Championships. The position was developed out of the concern for the health of our athletes and the question of its inclusion as PED. As an organization devoted to athletes over the age of 40 years, we are well aware of the many health concerns affecting our members and the common issues facing athletes and officials in all sports. We also are cognizant of the topic of PED use in sports and the potential for its unfair advantage in competitions.
Low testosterone can have very significant health risks for an individual, including fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances, as well as general well-being. Studies show that it may also have a role in osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, various lipid disorders and heart disease. It is an active area of medical research and new discoveries have been presented that show age is related to a drop in free testosterone levels which predisposes men to a number of unfortunate and serious health risks.
HRT has shown many of those risks can be averted and, with treatment, many of the health risks can be reduced and quality of life restored for patients. However, with its use comes the very real risk of abuse. It is a potent anabolic steroid and studies show it can have a positive effect on increased muscle size and strength. The intoxicating effect of rapid fat loss and muscle gain can lead to misuse and the resulting unfair advantage in a power sport such as the Scottish Highland Games.
The adverse effects of low testosterone levels are apparent and serious and, likewise, the positive effects of hormone supplementation are significant and serious. While considering this proposition and the balance of the issues, it became apparent to SMAI that the health of the athlete must tip the scale in favor of allowing the use of HRT under a doctor’s supervision and judgment while participating in any competition sponsored by SMAI is an acceptable risk for us to take. While we condemn the abuse of any PED and prohibit the known use of many other PEDs, it would be against all that we hold valuable to discourage proper medical therapy.
Therefore, let it be known that SMAI accepts the use of HRT as a beneficial therapy for the age related condition commonly called “low testosterone” or the medical condition of “hypogonadism.” Further, while acknowledging the very real potential for its abuse, HRT while under a doctor’s care and judgment is acceptable while participating in any SMAI sponsored Masters World Championships. We do not and will not cause any member to avoid the competition due to the use of HRT.