Marlon Byrd Suspended for Taking Tamoxifen

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Major League Baseball player Marlon Byrd has been suspended for fifty games after violating the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Byrd tested positive for tamoxifen. Byrd subsequently admitting using tamoxifen and reported obtaining it from a “lifestyle coach” in Florida.

“I made an inexcusable mistake,” said Byrd in a written statement. “Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition, and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test.”

Tamoxifen is more commonly known by its trade name Nolvadex. While Nolvadex has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a breast cancer drug, most of the people who use this drug (or a generic or underground version of it) are not cancer patients. Tamoxifen has been popular among bodybuilders ever since “steroid guru” Dan Duchaine promoted its use back in the 1980s.

Duchaine found Nolvadex useful in treating and preventing a gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is commonly referred to as “gyno” and less frequently as “bitch tits”. Gyno is a common side effect arising from the use of aromatizing anabolic steroids.

Drugs like Nolvadex (tamoxifen) and Clomid (clomiphene) are selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). They effectively blocked the actions of estrogen in certain tissues such as breast tissue. While this is useful for breast cancer patients, it also effectively reduces the risk of developing gynecomastia in steroid-using bodybuilders and athletes.

The use of SERMs and aromatase inhibitors (AIs) such as Arimidex (anastrazole) and Letrozole have increasingly seen off-label uses in the treatment of gynecomastia. Surgery is another option for the removal of gyno if non-invasive options fail to achieve the desired results.

While the presence of gynecomastia is usually the result of prior steroid use especially in athletes and bodybuilders, it also occurs naturally in some males in the absence of exogenous steroid or other drug use.

Based on Byrd’s explanation of his tamoxifen use, it seems that Byrd may have previously had surgery for gynecomastia only to have it reoccur recently. Byrd did not disclose the nature of the medical condition that required tamoxifen.

Photo credit: Keith Allison on Flickr


Nightengale, B. (June 25, 2012). Marlon Byrd says Victor Conte not to blame for ban. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/story/2012-06-25/marlon-byrd-suspended/55828588/1