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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 11:00 GMT
Q&A: diuretics
Shane Warne, the Australian cricketer has failed a drugs test, but has denied taking any performance enhancing drugs.

He has tested positive for a diuretic, and is set to face further tests.

BBC News Online looks at what he took, and what diuretics are used for.

What has Shane Warne taken?

The Australian Sports Drug Agency told the cricketer he has tested positive for the drugs hydrochlorothiazide and amiloride.

What are they?

Both are diuretics. These are commonly taken to treat fluid retention.

They make someone urinate more frequently, flushing water and salts out of their body.

They are given to people with kidney or heart disorders and are also used to treat high blood pressure.

What has Shane Warne said?

The cricketer has admitted he took the tablet, which he knew was supposed to dehydrate him and rid his body of excess fluid.

But he has said he did not know it was a banned substance.

Shane Warne dislocated his shoulder in a one-day international against England on 15 December.

Sports medicine experts are divided over whether diuretics can help injured players.

John Brewer, head of human performance at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire, told BBC News Online: "Warne could have been given diuretics as an anti-inflammatory for the swelling that was part of his shoulder injury.

"A lot of the inflammation would be fluid related."

He said: "If he was prescribed the drugs, whoever did that should have paid much more attention to the banned list."

But Professor Michael Cullen, of the British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine, said there was no proof that diuretics could help recovery from injury.

"There is no scientific evidence to support that. There is no place for diuretics in the treatment of sports injuries.

"There is also no evidence that it takes away fluid from the site of injury."

Why are the authorities concerned?

Diuretics are banned under the Olympic Anti Doping Code.

John Brewer said: "The main benefit of a diuretic is in sports where weight is important, or where making a weight is important, such as racing, judo or boxing.

"Diuretics will cause people to lose fluid, lose weight, and they would effectively be able meet a weight that's actually lower than their muscle mass and weight would suggest."

And he added: "They could help to get to get rid of the by-products of other, more serious, drugs."

Could diuretics boost performance?

They cannot be used to enhance performance themselves, but could mask other drugs which could.

John Brewer said: "Cricket is not a sport where performance-enhancing drugs are likely to have a major benefit."

Are there any side effects of taking diuretics?

It can be unhealthy to take them unnecessarily. Patients could suffer dehydration and potassium deficiency.

John Brewer said taking them in the hot climate of Africa would exacerbate the dehydration someone could suffer, and would impair performance.

See also:

12 Feb 03 | Australia
22 Jan 03 | Australia
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