Basketball champion Tristan Thompson was suspended from the NBA this week after after he was found to be taking growth hormones and performance-enhancing drugs.

Thompson, who plays center for the Cleveland Cavaliers,

has been suspended without pay for 25 games after testing positive for ibutamoren and SARM LGD-4033.

Both drugs are on the list of prohibited substances in the NBA because they give a significant boost to muscle mass, strength and endurance – even though they come with potentially life-changing side effects.

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Tristan Thompson was handed the lengthy ban after testing positive for ibutamoren and SARM LGD-4033, respectively a ‘growth hormone’ and a muscle enhancement for bodybuilders

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The drugs Thompson was using are meant to help athletes bulk up faster and increase performance. Thompson pictured in 2011 (left) and this month (right)

Ibutamoren is a type of growth hormone secretagogues, which work by ramping up the body’s production of growth hormones like HGH.

They act on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain and tell them to keep levels of HGH high throughout the day.

They help the body recover from injuries or strenuous training quicker, which can boost performance, improve sleep, speed up fat loss, stimulate appetite and improve muscle mass.

Likewise, Thompson was also taking SARM LGD-4033, a type of selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM).

SARMs are man-made chemicals that look like testosterone to the body and bind to receptors responsible for muscle growth.

They were designed for people with muscle-wasting diseases and to be less toxic than steroids.

SARMs specifically are thought to increase muscle strength and lower the amount of time muscles need to rest exercise, leading users to bulk up faster.

However, these drugs have been shown to cause long-lasting health consequences.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned last year that SARMs have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, psychosis, sleep issues, sexual dysfunction, liver injury, and infertility.

The agency has also stated that ibutamoren has been associated with a greater chance of developing congestive heart failure.

Donald D Ashley, director of the FDA’s Office of Compliance, said: ‘We are extremely concerned about unscrupulous companies marketing body-building products with potentially dangerous ingredients.’

‘Body-building products that contain selective androgen receptor modulators, or SARMs, have not been approved by the FDA and are associated with serious safety concerns, including potential to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and life threatening reactions like liver damage.’

Both drugs are banned by the NBA, as well as sports authorities like the NCAA and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

What are SARMs?

SARMs are man-made chemicals that look like testosterone to the body and bind to receptors responsible for muscle growth.

They were designed for people with muscle-wasting diseases and to be less toxic than steroids.

How do they work?

Like steroids, SARMs bind to the androgen receptors, causing changes to DNA which allow muscles to grow bigger and quicker.

Steroids are a blunt tool that also impact other parts of the body, leading to side effects such as prostate issues, liver damage, hair loss and acne.

SARMs were designed to be ’tissue selective’ – targeting the muscles without setting off this same chain of reactions.

But similar issues have also been seen in SARMs users.

What are the side effects?

They cause significant hormonal imbalances in men and women – particularly at high doses.

In men, they shut down the body’s natural production of testosterone when they come off the drugs, which can shrink their testicles, crash their sex drive, trigger mental health problems and even make them infertile.

While taking SARMS, women will experience virilisation – the process of physically turning into a man – which causes them to grow facial hair and develop a deep voice.

SARMs are also extremely toxic to the body.

Because they are taken orally in pill form, rather than injected like most steroids, they have to be processed by the digestive system and the liver.

The liver responds by overproducing certain enzymes that can leak into the blood stream and cause inflammation, which leads to heart, blood pressure and other organ damage issues.

Are SARMs legal?

Yes, in the US and UK SARMs are currently legal to buy due to a loophole.

They can be bought and sold as ‘research chemicals’ but are not allowed to be used on people.

Many products rely on legal disclaimers to get round the law, warning customers: ‘Under no circumstances are these products sold for human consumption.’

They are not allowed to be marketed as supplements.

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