S African 14-year-old tests positive

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The Independent Online

A 14-year-old South African girl has become the youngest athlete in the world to test positive for the use of banned drugs, the International Amateur Athletic Federation announced yesterday.

The girl, who has not been named, gave a positive urine sample at the South African National Junior Championships, which took place at Germiston on 7 and 8 April, according to Athletics South Africa in Johannesburg.

The banned substances discovered were the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the stimulant fencamfamine. The girl, reportedly a sprinter but whose event has not been officially revealed, faces a four-year ban.

An ASA statement yesterday said they were "extremely disturbed... because the use of anabolic steroids by such a young person can lead to permanent and irreversible physical and psychological changes".

Sue Conway, of the IAAF doping department in Monte Carlo, confirmed that, subject to appeal, the girl's name would have to be released soon. "No distinction is made between the way athletes are dealt with because of age," Conway said.

Nandrolone is the substance found in the American 400 metres world record holder Butch Reynolds' urine sample five years ago which resulted in a two-year ban.

The drug was withdrawn as a treatment for osteoporosis in post-menopausal women because it caused a deepening of the voice and the growth of facial hair.

In young people it also leads to a broadening of the shoulders and thickening of the waistline.