ICL: Indian Cricket League

Nandrolone: A burning subject cropping up in global sports


Nandrolone seems set to become the second most hated name after Darrell Hair in the world of Pakistan cricket.

It was proved by a second dope test on Monday that Pakistan’s pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif took the banned anabolic steroid and is now facing an international ban of up to two years.

Nandrolone might be quite unheard of in Pakistan but the performance-enhancing drug has proved to be quite a menace for the doping authorities in international sports over the last few years.

The steroid became quite infamous at the start of the new millennium following a series of high-profile cases when several top names in the world of sports were caught using it in the late nineties.

Several leading athletes including legendary British sprinter Linford Christie and his compatriots Mark Richardson and Dougie Walker, former world 200-metre champion Merlene Ottey of Jamaica and German middle-distance runner Dieter Baumann of Germany failed dope tests because of nandrolone traces in their urine samples.

However, positive dope tests for nandrolone have not necessarily resulted in any international ban for some sportspersons previously. The four athletes were cleared by their respective national federations but later the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) overturned the reinstatement of Christie and Walker.

Nandrolone, also known as Deca-Durabolin, has not just been confined to athletics. French football star Christophe Dugarry tested positive for nandrolone after a match in 1999 while Czech tennis player Petr Korda also failed a Test following a Wimbledon quarterfinal in 1998.

The fact that medical science is still not conclusive over substances like nandrolone makes it quite a controversial subject in international sports. There have been instances when athletes failing dope tests have defended themselves by saying that Creatine, a legal substance that can aid in muscle building as well performance enhancing, or even protein shakes could have been the reason for positive tests.

According to one finding, consumption of dietary supplements in conjunction with heavy physical training can result in the athlete failing a test for nandrolone.

Over the years, suspicions have been raised over the testing procedure because of the fact that many sportsmen were tested positive for the same substance in short space of time, leading to speculations that it might be flawed, or inaccurate.

Nandrolone is an anabolic steroid which occurs naturally in the human body, but only in tiny quantities. It is very similar in structure to the male hormone testosterone, and has many of the same effects in terms of increasing muscle mass, without some of the more unwanted side effects such as increased body hair or aggressive behaviour. As such, it is being actively examined in clinical tests as a possible treatment for wasting diseases, and to strengthen and increase body tissue and musculature in the HIV-infected men.

But in a dope test what is detected is the metabolism product of this molecule, called 19-norandrosterone, which is excreted from the body in urine, making it easy to obtain samples. A limit of 2 ng per ml of urine (set by the International Olympic Committee) is the maximum concentration thought possible to occur in human body by ‘natural means’, and if this is exceeded the drug test is considered positive.

Since some samples given by athletes have shown levels up to 100 times higher than this, the conclusion is that the athletes must have been taking extra quantities of the drug to enhance their performance.

Source:The News

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