Nandrolone in Long Distance Swimming

Nandrolone is one of the powerful androgenic steroids, available on the market under the trade name Deca-Durabolin. Its inevitable side effects include severe masculization in women, erectile dysfunction and gynecomastia in men, and cardiovascular damage in all. When you hear about the numerous bodybuilders who have died from heart disease or suffered from heart issues, Deca is the culprit.

This is a case of David Meca-Medina v. FINA and Igor Majcen v. FINA (Court of Arbitration for Sport, Lausanne, 29 February 2000, CAS 99/A/234 and CAS 99/A/235)

David Meca-Medina was a member of the Spanish Swimming Federation (for non-swimmers, FINA stands for “Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur” transl. “International Amateur Swimming Federation”). Igor Majcen was a member of the Slovenian Swimming Federation (also FINA affiliate). They placed first and second respectively at the World Cup in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, on 1/31/1999. They were tested at the end of the race. The two cases were heard jointly.

First, the plaintiff (FINA) must meet the burden of proof that a doping offence had been committed, which is provided by the positive test. The Sanction is issued and the defendants appeal the sanction, which is why we refer to them as appellants. The appellants (the swimmers here) must rebut this proof by showing how the substance got into their system and that they neither harbored the intent to use it nor were negligent in consumption of supplements that contained it.

The results obtained here showed consumption of nandrolone precursors (substances such as Nandrox, available on the market in a pill form – whereas Deca usually has to be injected), a recognized cause of several positive tests (CAS 98/214, Bouras v. IJF). The appellants argued that the source of the prohibited substance was their innocent consumption of pork the night before. This is so unlikely that it is laughable, but, being presented in court, they would have to have a solid proof, such as a piece of pork or an expert testifying thereto, which they failed to produce. Finally, the restraint on livelihood to the appellants’ freedom within the European Community was justified (Wilander v. Tobin (ITF), 1997; see also the previous case Johnson v. Athletics Canada and IAAF).

It must be added that Meca-Medina has made it more difficult for sports organizations and bodies to issue “sporting rules” – because in order for a sporting rule to be characterized as such by the court, it must not have an economic impact, which means it must be narrowly-tailored to the particular sport without affecting the athlete economically which, in today’s world, is practically impossible.

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