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Rugby Player Newton Reveals Growth Hormone Use


Terry Newton isn’t a name many would easily recognise in the sporting world. Yet if we said that the Rugby League player was the first athlete in the world to test positive for human growth hormone then people may recall. A former international rugby player, Newton tested positive in November 2009 for the banned substance after he was targeted through intelligence by UK Anti-Doping officials.

Newton was sanctioned with a two year ban from the sport and immediately confessed to doping. As we know too well, cycle sport isn’t the only sport with it’s fair share of doping problems and controversy. Newton’s case was far from an isolated incident where several players have been caught using banned substances.

In an honest and open interview on BBC Radio 5 Live’s weekly Rugby Union programme on 13th July, Newton gave some interesting insights into the world of doping and seeks to make amends for his errors, hoping his story will serve as a lesson to others tempted to dope. We have transcribed the full interview below.

Tell us the background, you were injecting Human Growth Hormone (HGH) into your stomach, why did you do it?
A number of reasons really, I’m not making excuses for what I did, I lost my sister early in 2009 which may have had an effect on the way I was thinking. I was riddled with injuries and people I spoke to said ‘do this’, this could help with the injuries and further your career. I made the choice (to dope) myself and it was the wrong choice.

You thought you could get away with it didn’t you?
Of course I did yes. There’s speculation flying around the sport, not just Rugby League, but I think every sport in general. I don’t think it’s only me in the world of sport taking HGH and hopefully this can stop people going down the path I’ve gone down.

You were the first person in the world to be caught taking it via a blood test in any sport?
Yea, people have been blood tested before, I know people who have been blood tested in different sports who have been using HGH and never been caught, I know people in Rugby League who have been tested and never got caught who have been on it (HGH). I was caught.

If you hadn’t been caught would you still be taking it?
My first thoughts on it are that I got injured at the back end of my Bradford career, I broke my cheekbone and was speaking to people, friends and other players and I wanted to go to Wakefield fit and free of injury and this (taking HGH) was one of my options and looking back now I should never have entered into what I did. I took it over a short term, I found the benefits of taking it and thinking I wouldn’t get caught. At the end of the day if you cheat you’re gonna get caught, which I did.

‘Terry Newton – Drug’s Cheat’ – that’s something that you’re going to get labeled with forever isn’t it?
It is yes, but other than that I think I’ve had a pretty decent career, four grand finals, I’ve won Challenge Cups, represented my country, represented Lancashire, captained England Schoolboys. I know people may find it hard to see past the drugs situation but I just hope they can, and I think I explain it all pretty well in the book why I took drugs. I think if they read the book they would understand my reasons for doing so. I don’t expect people to agree with it, I just hope it opens peoples eyes and that it can teach young players that they don’t need to go down the path that I have gone down.

What’s even more surprising is that you have always been very anti-drugs and you touched on your sister who sadly died at a young age from the effects of heroin addiction which makes it even more surprising.
It does yes, but at the time I was taking HGH I wasn’t seeing it as a drug, I see drugs as harming you but this was helping me. It was like a medicine that was helping me. I know it was banned, but you can’t change the past and I’ve just got to move forward now and to new things in my life.

Do you stand by the fact that others in Rugby League were taking human growth hormone, have been taking it and are still taking it?
There’s a lot of Chinese whispers out there, I’m not going to start naming names but there are rumors out there that people have been or are taking it, it’s not for me to find out, not for me to say or comment who is or who isn’t. I just hope that if there were people out there, then that they have learn’t now that they can get caught.

You are protecting some people because in your book you say you actually bought the drug from another player and you talked about other players who are using it.
I did yes at the time and I just hope that those players now have stopped which I’m sure they have because, well, if they haven’t stopped now I think they are very foolish. There was a phase where nobody could be detected taking HGH and if it was helping the players with injuries then obviously players will do what they can to help themselves. But this is the wrong way to do it.

So you think that (taking HGH) will not happen or does not happen in the sport after you were caught?
I think you would be a very foolish man to carry on what I was doing, but there may be other people that still think human growth hormone can’t be detected or I was just unlucky to get caught.

You’ll be 33 by the time your two year ban is completed, are you going to carry on or is this the end of your career?
I’ve recently been contacted by UK Anti-Doping (UKADA) to help them with intelligence on the foundation of the use of HGH, the reasons why people are taking it and why people go down this path. When I was at Leeds and even at Wigan and the early stages at Bradford, I hadn’t even heard of this thing that was helping players.
But suddenly, HGH has come on the scene so easily, anyone can buy it like they can buy protein or creatine, so if I can help UKADA then they will have another look at my ban and maybe look to reduce it so I could be back playing before I know it.

Newton’s book is called ‘Coming Clean’. May well be worth a read…