ADLER, Russia -- Full Size MGF is a drug that accelerates intense muscle building, similar to human growth hormone. It is twice as strong as conventional MGF, which is considered highly effective by anti-doping experts.
What makes Full Size MGF even more attractive as a performance-enhancing drug for athletes with Olympic aspirations is that it is undetectable by testing methods used by the World Anti-Doping Agency's accredited test laboratories, such as the one that will process more than 2,400 drug tests during the Olympic Games this month.
It's also for sale, apparently, from scientists at the internationally renowned Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
This week reporters for Sports Inside, a program on the German WDR network, revealed a scientist at the Russian Academy offered to sell undercover reporters the previously unknown doping agent.
The WADA-accredited lab in Cologne has confirmed the authenticity and purity of the drug, the report said.
The German broadcast, along with reports that two Russian biathletes have tested positive for banned substances this week, has again raised questions about the prevalence of doping among elite Russian athletes and the commitment of the country's Olympic committee, sports federations and anti-doping agency to fight a drug problem that has long been considered one of the worst among sport's global superpowers.
WADA's top two officials said they are particularly alarmed about the apparent availability of Full Size MGF not only because of its effectiveness and the inability to detect it but also because it has not been peer reviewed and has only been tested on animals.
"It's outrageous that somebody is producing a substance like that, passing them on with the risk to the health of an athlete without being peer reviewed and potentially very dangerous," WADA president Craig Reedie said.
WADA has long known new drugs under development or studied by pharmaceutical companies and research centers sold on the black market or stolen are making their way to athletes.
But the Russian Academy's reputation and potential danger of Full Size has taken the practice to a new level, WADA officials said.
"It's a bit shocking that it should happen from a Russian scientist and it's certainly shocking that the substance was only trialed on animals," WADA general director David Howman said.
"So for it to be made available by somebody for human use is totally outrageous."
The emergence of Full Size and the positive tests for two more high-profile Russian athletes is the latest setback for Russian sports.
In a two-year period, Russian officials -- and even some of their former critics -- have insisted the country has made strides in its anti-doping fight, claims that were undermined by dozens of positive tests for Russian stars, arrests, charges of bribes and covered-up tests.
The Moscow anti-doping lab was provisionally suspended and threatened with being stripped of its accreditation by WADA less than three months before the Sochi Games.
"The Russians are aware that they have not been as good at catching the dopers as they should have been," former WADA president Dick Pound said. "Like a lot of closed countries, it's been more important to win than to necessarily be clean. But that's not confined to Russia."
WADA suspended and threatened to shut down the Moscow lab in November because of concerns about the accuracy and reliability of its test results.
Pound, a Montreal attorney and former IOC vice president, led an independent audit of the lab after the WADA suspension.
"There were quality-control issues where they were missing stuff they should be catching," Pound said.
"The science (at the lab) is pretty good. The lab is well equipped. It was just the quality of the personnel and not the following up of proper procedures. With all those things, it was not under stringent control."
Great Britain Anti-Doping Agency CEO Andy Parkinson said WADA observers will monitor the lab as it processes tests on the urine and blood samples from athletes competing in Sochi.
The lab's procedures are just one of the issues that have cast a cloud over Russian anti-doping efforts in recent years.
"It's a question of changing the complete philosophy," Reedie said.
Russian track coach Oleg Popov in a letter to WADA last year alleged top athletes were pressured to dope by Russian coaches and officials and athletes could pay to have positive tests discovered by the Moscow lab covered up.
Russian quarter-miler Valentin Kruglyakov told reporters last summer he was held out of the 2012 Olympic Games because he refused to pay officials the equivalent of $1,500 to ensure a clean drug test.
Grigory Rodchenko, head of the Moscow lab, faced doping-related criminal charges in 2011 but was never brought to trial.
Nikita Kamaev, head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, defended Rodchenko and dismissed the other charges.
"There are no problems," Kamaev said.
But with this week's biathlon positives, there are at least 42 Olympic-caliber Russian athletes either serving doping bans or suspended pending hearings.
The number of suspected Russian doping cases was double in the first nine months of 2012 compared to those in the same period in 2013.
While longtime critics of the Russian program and some IOC members see the numbers as proof that doping among elite Russian athletes continues to be widespread, others hope increased testing by the RUSADA is working.
"I've always tried to be a glass half full man instead of half empty," Reedie said.
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