Steroids Invade the NBA – Actually It’s Only DHEA

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended the Memphis Grizzlies’ O.J. Mayo for violating the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program after he tested positive for DHEA. Mayo’s first violation of the league’s SPED policy (steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents) automatically results in a 10-game suspension. The suspension corresponds to a forfeiture of $405,109 of his salary.

Sportswriters are mistakenly reporting that O.J. Mayo is the second basketball player in the NBA to test positive for DHEA. Orlando Magic Rashard Lewis did not test positive for DHEA. He tested positive for anabolic steroid use after failing the testosterone:epitestosterone ratio (T:E ratio) test which is suggestive of exogenous testosterone use. Lewis blamed the positive steroid test on his inadvertent use of DHEA in a smoothie he purchased.

The NBA/NBPA SPED policy considers DHEA a prohibited steroid no different than Dianabol, Winstrol , or Anadrol. The NBA and all sports that have adopted the WADA Anti-Doping Code, also consider DHEA a prohibited steroid.

DHEA is perfectly legal for consumers in the United States to purchase and consume as a dietary supplement. DHEA is explicitly exempted from legally being classified as an anabolic steroid under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act.

Nonetheless, the legal status of DHEA and other performance-enhancing substances as a “dietary supplements” is confusing to many athletes who are unable to reconcile this with “legal” supplements being “prohibited” in sports.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency believes the solution is to criminalize all dietary supplements that are banned in sports. In other words, all substances prohibited in sports should also be prohibited as dietary supplements for consumers to eliminate any confusion among competitive athletes.

Currently, DHEA remains widely available at your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart and other mass retailers as well as local health and sports nutrition stores.

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About Millard Baker