Steroid Use Rampant in Sport of Kabaddi

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The use of anabolic steroids appears to be rampant in the sport of kabaddi. Nineteen out of 51 urine samples tested positive for anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) during India’s selection trials for the Kabaddi World Cup.

Kabaddi players were busted using a wide variety of steroids including Winstrol (stanozolol), Dianabol (methendienone), trenbolone, Masteron (drostanolone) and Deca Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate).

What is kabaddi you may ask? It is a 4000 year-old team sport that is extremely popular in India. Two teams occupy opposing sides of the field. Each team alternately sends a “raider” into their competitor’s half of the field. The “raider” scores points by tackling players, holding his breath and chanting “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi” while attempting to return to his half of the field. The defensive players hold hands tightly while trying to stop the “raider”.

Kabaddi is apparently a highly competitive and, like any other sport, athletes seek to enhance their performance with anabolic steroids. Steroid use has reportedly been widespread among kabaddi users for many years.

Numerous Indian pharmacies sell various types of steroids to customers specifically to enhance athletic performance. Anabolic steroids are classified as Schedule H drugs in India. They can not legally be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. The prescription requirement is not regularly enforced allowing the sale of steroids in the absence of a prescription.

In an effort to make kabaddi an Olympic sport, kabaddi athletes have been subject to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code in recent years. India’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has administered WADA-compliant drug tests to catch athletes who use prohibited substances.

NADA has cracked down on steroid use after a major doping scandal has engulfed the Indian National Team this summer. Eight track athletes competing at the Indian National Championships in Bangalore tested positive for anabolic steroids. The fact that 7 of the 8 doping cases involved women sent shockwaves throughout the country.

If  the use of steroids by female athletes and kabaddi players is problematic, it seems likely that the use of performance-enhancing drugs must be pervasive in other sports as well. We expect the crackdown of steroids in India to remain in the news for some time.

Steroid use and kabaddi


Press Trust of India. (October 13, 2011). Nine more kabaddi players fail dope tests. Retrieved from http://ibnlive.in.com/news/nine-more-kabaddi-players-fail-dope-tests/192803-5-23.html