Nandrolone, the steroid Starling Marte used, has long history as PED
April 18, 2017 7:58 PM
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Nandrolone is not a designer drug. It is as anabolic steroid as it gets. Developed in the 1950s, the synthetic compound for which Starling Marte tested positive has a long history of use for enhanced performance.
“With much embarrassment and helplessness, I ask for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in my work and have supported me so much,” Marte said in a statement.
Roger Clemens was linked to the use of Deca-Durabolin, a derivative of nandrolone, in 2000. Basketball player Juan Dixon tested positive for the drug in 2010. New York Mets minor leaguer Derrick Bernard tested positive for nandrolone in 2014, as did Baltimore Orioles minor leaguer Alfredo Zambrano in 2010. Athletes from other sports, including track and field and tennis, have also tested positive for the drug.
The drug is administered with an injection into muscle. Clinically, nandrolone has been used to treat anemia resulting from kidney failure and muscle-wasting disorders, including HIV and AIDS-related deterioration, according to the Livestrong Foundation. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is also used to treat testosterone deficiencies. But because it resembles testosterone, athletes use it to improve strength, work out longer and harder, and recover more quickly.
It also can lead to liver damage, mood swings and fertility issues in men, according to drugfree.org.
In the 1940s, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force grew concerned about rumors that German Luftwaffe pilots had access to corticosteroids to deal with high altitude, according to Bernd Schaefer’s book “Natural Products in the Chemical Industry.” The British wanted some for their own pilots, and turned to Arthur Birch, an Australian chemist who was working at Oxford’s Dyson Perrins Laboratory at the time.
In the course of Birch’s work, he synthesized an anabolic-androgenic steroid similar to the testosterone produced naturally in the male body, according to “Doping In Sports,” a collection of articles from the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology. The compound became known as nandrolone, and later, Deca-Durabolin.
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