Nandrolone has lesser side effects

Since the late 90s, nandrolone has hit the headlines regularly, giving the impression that it is the most popular among the list of steroids that sportspersons use for enhancing their performance.

"You can eat boar's testicles all week and not reach that level,'' WADA Chief, Dick Pound, was once quoted as saying. — Pic. REUTERS-

Steroids are derivatives of the male hormone testosterone and they are basically used to build muscles. Nandrolone, studies have shown, has lesser side effects compared to other steroids and helps boost endurance as well as speeds up recovery.

Two other closely-resembling steroids are 19-norandrostenedione and 19-norandrostenediol. When these steroids are administered, they convert into metabolites and are excreted in the urine. The major metabolites for the 19-nonsteroid group are 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone.

The best known nandrolone product available in the Indian market is Deca-Durabolin that comes in injection form. Though it is a prescription drug, it is freely available in the market.

The effect of a single injection can last up to about eight to ten months and when stacked with other steroids, traces could remain in the body for much longer periods. As such, injections are taboo for the hardened doper.

The nandrolone pre-cursors are, however, available in tablet and capsule forms and these get washed out of the system within four weeks or even less. Better products that go out of the system much quicker are available in American markets.

Nandrolone was included in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned list in 1975. Among those who tested positive in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, there were nandrolone cases, too. The 1984 Los Angeles Games produced eight nandrolone positives.

Following a debate about nandrolone being naturally produced within the body, the IOC carried out a scientific study at the Nagano Winter Olympics. Out of 621 tests only five exceeded a level of 0.1 nanograms/ml urine of nandrolone. All five exceptions were women.

The IOC ruled that a level of 2ng/ml urine for male and 5ng/ml urine for non-pregnant female should be reported. Pregnant women were to be excluded from reporting by the labs. In 1998, the IOC added the nandrolone metabolite androstenedione to the prohibited list and an year later added three more, androstenediol, 19-norandrostenedione and 19-norandrostenediol. In clinical medicine, nandrolone has been used in the treatment of breast cancer, some blood disorders, management of certain conditions such as post-menopausal osteoporosis and as an anabolic agent for muscle rebuilding after a debilitating disease.

No one with any commonsense will thus argue that he had used or his doctor had prescribed nandrolone as an age-old remedy for a common disease. Yet, people try.

Over the years, sports personalities have blamed the detection of nandrolone in their urine on having sex with pregnant women, on eating testicles of wild boar, eating pork from uncastrated male pigs, or on toothpaste being spiked with the drug and so on. Nothing ever worked. ``You can eat boar's testicles all week and not reach that level,'' WADA Chief, Dick Pound, was once quoted as saying.

Among the more famous sportspersons who tested positive for nandrolone in recent years have been athletes Linford Christie of Britain, Cuban Javier Sotomayor, Jamaican Merlene Ottey, German Dietr Baumann, American C. J. Hunter, Britons Doug Walker and Mark Richardson, Algerian Ali Said-Sief, footballers Edgar Davids, Jaap Stam and Frank de Boer of Holland, Fernando Couto of Portugal and Christophe Duggary of France. Ten of the 12 steroid cases reported from the Hyderabad National Games were nandrolone. At least 12 of the 19 positive cases from the Punjab Games were nandrolone.

Indian weightlifter Parmanand of Delhi tops the nandrolone charts with a concentration level of 205ng/ml urine, more than 100 times in excess of permissible limits, among the positives at the Hyderabad National Games. Hurdler P. Udaya Laxmi had a level of 80ng/ml urine, 16 times more than the cut-off level for women while another Andhra hurdler Alapati Kalyani had 66.2ng/ml urine.

Punjab sprinter Jagdish Basak turned in 34ng/ml urine while weightlifter Seema Gulai of Bengal had 26ng/ml urine.