Female Athletes on Anabolic Steroids in India

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A major doping scandal has engulfed the Indian National Team as eight athletes have tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs over the past few weeks. What is even more surprising is that seven of the eight athletes testing positive for anabolic steroids were women.

The Indian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) collected samples from competitors at the National Championships in Bangalore. Six samples returned positive for anabolic steroids. Five of the positive tests were from women. The samples of two additional female track athletes collected this week also revealed metabolites of banned anabolic steroids.

The positive steroid tests have decimated the Indian 4×400 meter women’s relay team as three members have been suspended for steroid use. The 4×400 team was preparing to compete in the Dehli Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

The steroid scandal in India is sending shockwaves throughout the country much like the BALCO scandal affected the steroid discussion in the United States.

The suspended athletes have blamed contaminated dietary supplements for the positive steroid tests. Dietary supplements are only lightly regulated in India. Some unscrupulous companies in India have been suspected of spiking their supplements with steroids. However, few people believe that the positive steroids results were the result of a spiked supplement in these cases.

Real anabolic steroids are readily available without a prescription in India even though a prescription may be technically required to purchase steroids. An expose by a local news organization found that numerous pharmacies have set up shop right outside the Indian National Institute of Sports in Patiali.

These pharmacies sell various pharmaceutical version of anabolic steroids, such as Menabol, Neurabol (stanozolol) and Deca Durabolin (nandrolone) to customers specifically for performance-enhancing purposes in athletes. Anabolic steroids are Schedule H drugs in India and, by law, can not legally be purchased without a prescription. However, none of the pharmacies outside the National Institute of Health required a prescription.

When TOI reached Patiala on Tuesday, schedule H steroid Stanolozol was still being openly sold for as cheap as Rs 30 for a strip of 10 capsules. All you have to do is ask for it by its brand name, Neurabol. Schedule H drugs, by law, can’t be bought without a prescription.

“We have been selling it for many years. There has never been a complaint,” assures the salesman at Preet Medical Store, a chemist near Sewa Singh Thikriwala Statue, the commercial district next door to NIS. […]

But while Mandeep merely mentioned food supplements, what TOI discovered was the sheer ease with which steroids could be obtained. A Nandrolone-Decanoate injection, under the brand name of Deca Durabolin (1 ml), is available for Rs 177 along with a valid bill. […]

When asked for Menabol (containing Stanozolol), Jai Maa Medicos, plying their trade on Lower Mall Patiala, even suggests an alternative – Neurabol for better results. “Athletes and sportspersons prefer Neurabol over Menabol. Though they are one and the same thing, Neurabol is the preferred drug,” he says, seemingly oblivious to the storm kicked up by doping.

The reaction in India has swift. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has initiated investigations into the local doping and steroid trade. The police in Punjab have raided and shut down pharmacies that were identified as selling Schedule H anabolic steroids without a prescription. The Indian National Team has fired Ukrainian track and field coach Yuri Ogorodnik, who coached six of the 8 suspected steroid users, and accused him of bringing shame to the Indian track team.

IndiaIndia National Anti-Doping Agency

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