Marathon Runners Use Steroids Too?

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Lithuania marathon runner Zivile Balciunaite failed the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio (T/E ratio) anti-doping test at the 2010 European Athletics Championship in Barcelona in July. The Lithuanian Athletics Federation has suspended her until they complete their investigation into the positive doping test.

Balciunaite has denied using any banned performance-enhancing drugs and attributes the positive test result on the prescription drug Duphaston. Her gynecologist prescribed Duphaston to combat menstrual pain. The active ingredient in Duphaston is dydrogesterone, a synthetic steroid hormone similar to progesterone.

The Lithuanian runner alleges that the drug caused a false positive by altering the T/E ratio. This is not the first time that a positive steroid test has been challenged by a female distance runner and blamed on female hormones and/or contraceptives prescribed by their physicians.

The great female middle distance runner Mary Slaney failed the T/E ratio test in 1996 during the Olympic trials. She argued that the T/E ratio was flawed and affected by her menstruation and the contraceptive hormones she was taking. Her ban was ultimately upheld by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

Zivile Balciunaite faces a two-year retroactive ban from competition should she be found guilty.

Marathon runner Zivile Balciunaite

About Millard Baker