The nandrolone mystery

Nandrolone is an anabolic steroid which acts in a similar way to the hormone testosterone, increasing muscle size, aiding recovery and allowing harder and longer training. Its potential side-effects include kidney damage, impotence, heart and liver disease and dramatic mood swings, known as "roid rage."

Nandrolone is not a "designer steroid" - it is well known, and easy to discover. The only mystery is why sportsmen and women continue to test positive for it, although one obvious reason may be a scientifically proven incidence of the substance turning up in nutritional supplements which should not contain it.

In 1999 the International Olympic Committee laboratory in Cologne run by Professor Wilhelm Schaencer began a two-year study of nutritional supplements and discovered that a significant proportion - 16 from the first 100 investigated - had been contaminated during production with pro-hormones which the body metabolises to produce nandrolone.

The investigation was prompted by a glut of nandrolone positives in athletics involving names such as Linford Christie, Merlene Ottey, Doug Walker and Mark Richardson. In February 2001, Schaencer confirmed that contaminated supplements had caused volunteers to return urine samples well above the legal limit of two nanograms per millilitre, with the highest recorded being 600 nanograms per millilitre.

Nandrolone won a high profile in 1990 when the then world 400 metres record holder, Butch Reynolds, tested positive and received a two-year ban despite pleading innocence. Eight years later the Czech tennis player Petr Korda tested positive for nandrolone and received a ban, although he was later acquitted. In 2003 seven tennis players were cleared by the Association of Tennis Professionals, which admitted it may have given players contaminated supplements.

Also in 2003, Greg Rusedski was cleared of a positive test for nandrolone using the same line of defence. In the world of doping, it seems, nothing is simple.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore