Super Granny Banned for Anabolic Steroid Use

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The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has banned 68-year old grandmother Kathy Jager for two years. The popular masters track star tested positive to for anabolic steroids during a doping control at the 2011 USA National Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Berea, Ohio on July 28, 2011. She will not be eligible to compete again until she reaches 70 years of age.

Jager’s use of steroids was part of the hormone replacement therapy prescribed by her physician. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code allows athletes to use prohibited substances for therapeutic purposes (even anabolic steroids) but only if they have been granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) beforehand. Jager did not have a TUE for her use of steroids.

Unfortunately, Jager is very familiar with the problems facing a masters track athlete that is prescribed hormone replacement therapy. This is the second time she was banned for using steroids. Jager tested positive for methyltestosterone at the 1999 World Association of Veteran Athletes World Championships in Gateshead (Great Britain) after she set a world record in the 55-59 age-bracket for the 100 meters.

The positive steroid test occurred as a result of Jager’s use of EstraTest HS. EstraTest was a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug that contained a combination of esterified estrogens and methyltestosterone in a single pill. EstraTest HS contained 1.25 milligrams of methyltestosterone. It has been used to treat menopausal women who experience hot flashes that were not relieved by estrogen-only HRT.

Jager’s first steroid ban occurred prior to the founding of WADA. At the time of her 1999 positive steroid test, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) prohibited substance list dictated what athletes could and could not take.

Jager argued that her use of EstraTest (and methyltestosterone) was for health reasons only and not for performance enhancement. The World Masters Association and IAAF did not agree and refused her request for early reinstatement to competition.

Jager’s case triggered a heated debate over the use of performance-enhancing substances by athletes when medically-indicated. Many people were outraged that health-promoting medicines in elder patients was prohibited out of fear of possible performance enhancement.

After her first steroid ban, Jager quit using the doctor-prescribed treatment for her menopausal symptoms and resorted to over-the-counter herbal remedies in order to comply with the ban on methyltestosterone.

In 2007, Jager learned that her second-largest coronary artery was 95% collapsed. A titanium stent was surgically implanted in her heart. She quickly returned to competition at the 2007 USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Orono.

The WADA code eventually allowed a procedure by which athletes could apply for a therapeutic use exemption for medications such as EstraTest. It is unknown if Jager ever applied for such an exemption and/or if the exemption was granted or denied.

Solvay, the manufacturer of EstraTest, discontinued the production of this product in March of 1999. Details about the HRT protocol used by Jager were not provided. However, compounding pharmacies routinely produce custom HRT formulations that sometimes included testosterone in the absence of comparable drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies.

Few people would be surprised to see Jager return to track competition upon the completion of her ban at the age of 70. The question remains whether WADA will grant her a TUE to use steroids as part of her HRT upon her return to competition.

 Kathy Jager


Associated Press. (October 18, 2011). Veteran Kathy Jager banned for steroids. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com

Callahan, S. (July 31, 2002). What makes Supergran run? Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/writer/sean_callahan/