Teens on nandrolone

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Monday, January 16, 2006
By Yokota Fritz

This is 16-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva, an up-and-coming tennis star who beat Venus Williams in the third round of the French Open last year. She also tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and has been banned from competition for two years.

This child was 15 years old when she tested positive for steroid use. Sesil Karatantcheva's coach (and father) naturally has appealed the suspension, claiming that his daughter was pregnant and that resulted in a false positive. According to Lance Armstrong's favorite sports daily, "les femmes enceintes produisent en effet une quantité plus importante de nandrolone" (pregnant woman produce some nandrolone) but a simultanous pregancy test "révélé négatif."

I have no idea if this teen is guilty of doping or not -- there's apparently good reason to be suspicious about the WADA tests for nandrolone.

The financial rewards for top tennis players are tremendous and I can imagine the pressure to succeed can persuade short-term gain over long-term health. Does this kind of pressure exist for junior cyclists? Is there enough fame or fortune in American cycling for drug use to be a problem among teens?

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My sense is that, no, junior cyclists in this country aren't really tempted to dope. As you pointed out, a fifteen year old could make the semis at a major tennis tournament, but no teenager is gonna win a major cycling tour or even a one-day classic. The body is just not ready.

It seems to me that the reason that pros dope is that by the time one gets a pro contract, everybody is a great cyclist and they are looking for incremental gains. That and the ability to recover quicker.

Check out Freakonomics for an interesting take on how average speeds in the TdF peaked around the time of the festina affair. Coincidence?
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