Detection of nandrolone metabolites in urine after a football game in professional and amateur players: a Bayesian comparison

Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Nov 1;122(2-3):130-5. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(01)00482-0.


Nandrolone (19-nortestosterone) is a widely used anabolic steroid in sports where strength plays an essential role. Once nandrolone has been metabolised, two major metabolites are excreted in urine, 19-norandrosterone (NA) and 19-noretiocholanolone (NE). In 1997, in France, quite a few sportsmen had concentrations of 19-norandrosterone very close to the IOC cut off limit (2ng/ml). At that time, a debate took place about the capability of the human male body to produce by itself these metabolites without any intake of nandrolone or related compounds. The International Football Federation (FIFA) was very concerned with this problematic, especially because the World Cup was about to start in France. In this respect, a statistical study was held with all football players from the first and second divisions of the Swiss Football National League. All players gave a urine sample after effort and around 6% of them showed traces of 19-norandrosterone. These results were compared with amateur football players (control group) and around 6% of them had very small amounts of 19-norandrosterone and/or 19-noretiocholanolone in urine after effort, whereas none of them had detectable traces of one or the other metabolite before effort. The origin of these compounds in urine after a strenuous physical activity is still unknown, but three hypotheses can be put forward. First, an endogenous production of nandrolone metabolites takes place. Second, nandrolone metabolites are released from the fatty tissues after an intake of nandrolone, some related compounds or some contaminated nutritive supplements. Finally, the sportsmen may have taken something during or just before the football game.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism*
  • Anabolic Agents / urine
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nandrolone / metabolism*
  • Nandrolone / urine
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Soccer / physiology*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Nandrolone