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Anabolic Steroids Experiences

Anabolic steroids & bodybuilding experiences

New Designer Steroid in Canada

Friday, February 03, 2006

As Turin Olympics approach, Pointe Claire lab detects 'designer' drug in half-dozen samples, some of which originated at competition out West.

Canadian athletes have tested positive for a new designer steroid discovered in a half- dozen urine samples sent to a lab in Pointe Claire.

"Definitely, Canada will have to answer questions," said Dr. Christiane Ayotte, director of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab.

"I detected it in some athletes in routine testing. I found it in a total of five (or) six samples."

The samples are numbered and not named, but Ayotte knows some of the positives came from a batch originating at a competition in Western Canada involving only Canadian athletes.

Is the country that was rocked by the Ben Johnson stanozolol scandal at the 1988 Olympics on the verge of another steroid disgrace?

"I don't know," said WADA president Richard Pound, a former Olympian based in Montreal. "I hope not."

The substance Ayotte discovered, but has yet to fully identify, is only the latest in a line of so-called "designer" steroids that are all the rage in doping. Pound said anti-doping officials have identified other designer steroids and chosen not to go public. In March, for example, the Washington Post contracted the WADA-accredited lab in Los Angeles to examine six dietary supplements available on the Internet. The lab revealed they were actually steroids.

Ayotte is certain the raw materials in designer steroids come from China and are manufactured into pill form in the U.S. by people with skill in organic chemistry.

Slight chemical alterations to existing steroids can create a new generation that is virtually undetectable.

"And there are thousands of ways to do that," said Dr. Don Catlin, who heads the lab in Los Angeles.

Still, every time someone like Ayotte or Catlin finds a new steroid and it's added to the

WADA banned list, the anti-doping side gains a little ground. It is a serious cat-and-mouse game with no end in sight.

"We know about a lot of designer steroids," Pound said. "We have tests for it. We're not going to say which ones, because we have to strike a balance. Do you put the word out so the smart guys stop taking it and go on to designer steroid 'x' instead of 'w,' or do you catch somebody with a big splash like we did in Salt Lake?"

Just before the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Catlin's lab developed a test for darbepoietin, a new generation of erythropoietin, a substance that boosts red blood cell production and therefore increases endurance. One Spanish male and two Russian female cross-country skiers tested positive for it near the end of the Games and were forced to return the medals they won. Canadian Beckie Scott was eventually upgraded from bronze to gold after finishing behind the two Russians in the 15-kilometre pursuit.

With word getting around that the anti-doping police are getting smarter, how will the cheaters respond? Will 1,200 tests at the Turin Olympics next month turn up more or fewer than the seven positives that came out of 825 tests conducted at Salt Lake City?

"We won't know until we test, but clearly, people have to know we're getting better and better at testing and the chances of getting caught are better," Pound said.

"We know people try to beat the tests by stuffing a balloon with other people's urine up their ass. We know about that and we're able to find it. So the room to maneuver is quite a lot less. We've got a test for EPO. We'll get better at (human growth hormone)."

Ayotte wasn't even looking for the specific steroid she found, but an odd peak showed up in a profile during analysis of urine samples with a gas spectrometer. Working backward from such a discovery can take months. Ayotte is finally close to announcing the chemical composition of the new designer steroid and confirming the positive tests, which is good news for anti-doping crusaders.

It's a bit of a hollow victory, however, because Ayotte is certain the new steroid has already been "burned" or pulled out of circulation because the dopers know a test for it is already in place or close at hand.

"It has been burned. But it has been used," Ayotte said.
posted by Frank Mori, Friday, February 03, 2006