Deca Durabolin in Sports

Nandrolone (the hormone on which Deca Durabolin is based) appears on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “Prohibited List” for exogenous anabolic steroids, meaning that its use in almost all competitive sports is prohibited and can lead to the banning of the athlete if its presence is detected. The International Olympic Committee tests for its presence, with any athlete showing the presence of more than 2 micrograms/L in urine being suspected of doping. Because of its 21-day persistence in the body, Deca Durabolin is particularly easy to detect.

In 1999, there was a rash of detections of nandrolone usage on the professional athletics circuit.

Merlene Ottey, a nine-time Olympic medal winning track athlete, was banned after representing Jamaica at an event in Lucerne, Switzerland, but her ban was overturned the following year.

German 5,000m champion Dieter Baumann tested positive for nandrolone, but the levels detected varied wildly with the time of day in a manner completely atypical for someone taking nandrolone for performance enhancement. He claimed the substance had been introduced to his system through his toothpaste, which he believed someone was doctoring. The German Athletics Federation cleared him on this basis but the IAAF refused to overturn his ban.

World-famous sprinter and multiple gold winner Linford Christie also tested positive for nandrolene in 1999, with his urine test showing more than 100 times the normal levels of nandrolene metabolites present. This was the third time that Christie had been involved in a doping controversy, though to this day he denies any use of performance-enhancing drugs and claims the positive test results were due to eating avocado or side-effects from nutritonal supplements.

It was shown, however, that it was possible for the tests used in 1999 to deliver false positives. Mark Richardson, then a member of the British Olympic relay team, gave a number of urine samples under strictly controlled conditions that would have prevented any access to exogenous nandrolone, and delivered a positive result. This proof of the possibility of false positives from the nandrolone doping test led to the overhaul of the testing system and the overturning of Richardson’s ban.

C.J. Hunter, an American shotputter, claimed that tests delivered a false positive for nandrolone because he had been consuming heavy amounts of lysine, an amino acid recommended for the treatment of cold sores. In 2004, however, Hunter admitted injecting nandrolone. Track-and-field star and multi-gold medal winner Marion Jones also admitted injecting nandrolone in 2007.

Other cases of nandrolone usage have appeared across many sporting fields, including:

Tennis – Petr Korda was banned from playing for a year in 1999, while Greg Rusedski tested positive but was then cleared of charges in 2004;

Baseball – Roger Clemens, who was part of the 2000 World Series-winning New York Yankees team, was allegedly injected with Deca Durabolin by coach Brian McNamee, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Alfredo Zambrano was suspended for 50 games after his urine tested positive for nandrolone metabolites, and Barry Bonds was claimed to have been doping with nandrolone by his trainer.

Powerlifting – in 2002, 15 out of 196 athletes tested positive for nandrolone use.

UFC – lightweight champion Sean Sherk lost his title following a positive test for nandrolone, despite passing a lie detector test claiming he had never knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs, while Royce Gracie was suspended for taking Deca-Durabolin in 2007.

Rugby League – South African Jamie Bloem was the first Rugby League player to test positive for nandrolone usage, but far from the last. In 2002, 18 out of 296 players tested positive for drugs, with half of them having used Deca Durabolin or similar nandrolone-based compound.