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Metadienone, a curious performance enhancing drug that makes Narsingh Yadav look ‘foolish’

Metadienone, popular world over despite being banned, is abused by athletes from strength-dominated sports like weight-lifting, wrestling, sailing and rowing.

Written by Shivani Naik | Mumbai |
Updated: July 26, 2016 12:24:08 pm
narsingh yadav, narsingh yadav dope, narsingh, narsingh dope test, narsingh yadav dope test result, narsingh vs sushil, wrestling news, wrestling Metadienone aids protein synthesis and muscle growth in a short span of time.

Metadienone is a curious performance enhancing substance to be caught sneaking inside the body by an international athlete of Narsingh Yadav’s repute, a month ahead of the Olympics. It does something worse than paint him as a ‘drug cheat.’

Being caught for the anabolic steroid this close to the Olympics, according to sports medicine experts, makes the 26-year-old, look “foolish.”

“No athlete will dare to take steroids this close to competition,’’ says Dr Ashok Ahuja, expert and senior doctor who served with the Sports Authority of India’s medical team for over two decades. Except, Narsingh returned a positive for his ‘A’ sample on a test conducted by the National Anti Doping Agency on June 25 – just over a month before Rio begins. He was also tested on July 5, but the results are not known. Subsequently, he traveled to Spain for a competition and won bronze.

A common anabolic steroid, popular world over despite being banned – or inspite of it, Metadienone is abused by athletes from strength-dominated sports like weight-lifting, wrestling, sailing and rowing.

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Also Read | Why would I dope so close to the Rio Olympics? asks Narsingh

Popular in the body building community since the 60s – sometimes associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator muscles, Metadienone aids protein synthesis and muscle growth in a short span of time.

“This is an anabolic steroid which belongs to the Nandrolone group. It helps in muscle building and for producing explosive power,” says PSM Chandran, former director of sports medicine (Sports Authority of India). He labels it ‘not a modern drug but outdated and ancient.’ “If taken orally it can be detected up to 2 to 4 weeks and if taken as an injection it can be detected upto 18 months,’’ he adds.

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Used by body-builders and freely available, however, it logically figures in the early phase of ‘steroid cycles’ of bulking the body, which confounds Dr Ahuja in the Narsingh matter. “When athletes lean on steroids illegally, this one will be taken in the off-season – at least 6 months before competition. Narsingh has to be really foolish if he took this now when athletes are entering the competition phase. The risk of getting caught is so tremendous because its traces don’t leave the body that I find it hard to believe that Narsingh who’s not a junior athlete would try it so close to the Games.’’

The positive result is supposed to have come out in a NADA test conducted on June 25.

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Orally admissible through tablets – as well as injectable, Ahuja says, “The timing of the revelations and tests is very intriguing from a medical point of view. Why will he indulge in this now given that he was sure to be tested as soon as he reached the Games Village on the 5th of August?”

Mustafa Ghouse of JSW who manages Yadav, tweeted: ‘To be talking about an S1 agent for weight, muscle gain at a time when every wrestler is on a weight loss program says all.’

The inference was that the doping charges did not add up, because Metadienone is responsible for water retention which increases weight, at a time when wrestlers are trying to bring it down to make their classification categories.

Metadienone aids more in muscle mass than the fat content. However the weight gain incurred from Metadienone can be lost immediately after stoppage, and it would’ve required regulation sauna and weight loss techniques before Narsingh’s competition date on August 19. 6 Indian wrestlers have been caught for dope offences since the start of 2016, 2 for Metadienone and 2 others for diuretics – the more likely drugs at this stage, though.

Ahuja while refusing to comment on chances of sabotage, however doesn’t rule out supplement contamination, saying 65 per cent of supplements in India are indeed impure. Narsingh, it is learnt was on a rigorously tested batch of Cellucor and ON (optimum nutrition).

Easy to mix

Available in tablet form, Metadienone can be mixed with water, juice, sweets or regular food after being crushed, Chandra reckons. “The nature of the drug – outdated and its usage being relatively easy to detect – raises questions about why Narsingh would intentionally take a drug of this kind,” Chandra says.

Side effects include damage to the liver, male pattern balding and growth of male breasts after it increases levels of oestrogen. Narsingh’s reputed “upper body strength” – integral to his game, is considered among India’s best. How Metadienone made its way into his body – if unintentional, as he has since claimed – is tough to explain. Narsingh is known to refrain eating at the mess at Sonepat, and his almond-milk is mixed by a trusted confidante and understudy Chandan Yadav. Only his personal physio Ishan Marwa tends to him, and his training partners have been carefully chosen.

Metadienone is not a dope positive that the wrestler will find easy to wriggle out of like Thai badminton star Ratchanok Intanon who fell under an exemption because the drug was injected locally right into the tendon – an admissible excuse. “Narsingh suspects foul play in either supplements or water, and he thinks he ingested it orally unwittingly. But it’ll be difficult to prove the conspiracy. It looks bleak and whoever used Metadienone did it to make him look stupid as well as a cheat,” said a member of his support staff crying conspiracy.

Another dark theory of switched samples – highly unlikely, but not impossible, according to the experts – renders Metadienone irrelevant. “Paperwork for every minute of the NADA test’s procedure should be available so I doubt it’s switched samples and it could be unintentional contamination,” Ahuja says, adding, “I won’t comment on foul play, but given it’s Metadienone, the timing is very, very intriguing. You have to be a complete dud to try this.’’

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