The doping methods used by athletes never cease to amaze us. It has been found that male athletes often use drugs prescribed to prevent breast cancer recurrence, while there is no safety data on such abuse.
We’re talking about a Russian weightlifter who won a silver medal in the category at the 2014 London Olympics.
But a few years later, analysis by the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, found irregularities in his urine analysis.
Two products were isolated: the anabolic steroid dehydrochloromethyltestosterone, also known to weight gain candidates as turinabol.
The second product is much more surprising because it is tamoxifen.
Tamoxifen is a drug prescribed to premenopausal women who have had breast cancer. It is prescribed to prevent cancer recurrence. Patients with hormone-dependent cancer, after surgery and possibly after chemotherapy and radiation therapy take it orally every day for five or even ten years.
This product has a special effect because it replaces estrogen and thus prevents these hormones from entering the nuclei of breast cells, where they stimulate the pathological activity of cancer cells.
Tamoxifen belongs to the category of selective estrogen receptor modulators or, according to the acronym, SERMs.
Why do male athletes take Tamoxifen?
To avoid getting bogged down in medical terms, let’s say that tamoxifen allows the body to believe that estrogen has been used up and is still needed.
In humans, the production of female hormones comes from the conversion of male hormones into female hormones. The main male hormone is testosterone.
So, with tamoxifen, men increase their natural testosterone production. That’s it!
But tamoxifen is not the only breast cancer drug that has found use in doping male athletes.
Athletes also often test positive for anastrozole, sold as Arimidex.
This drug belongs to the “aromatase inhibitor” family, which also includes letrozole and exemestane.
This drug also interferes with estrogen production.
As we said above, all sex steroids are derived from cholesterol. The first step is the synthesis of progesterone, which then produces androgens, the two main ones being testosterone and androstenedione.
Aromatases turn androgens into estrogen, testosterone into estradiol and androstenedione into estrone. If this drug is administered to people incorrectly, it blocks the physiological conversion of androgens to estrogen.
Macho men have to get used to this: men produce female hormones in minimal amounts, but they are there.
Thus, taking anastrozole will maintain the amount of testosterone, avoiding the “losses” associated with conversion.
The problem is that these two drugs, tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, have side effects.
Anti-aromatases increase bone demineralization and decrease libido.
The main problem remains their safety in circumstances that have never been tested clinically. There is a world between preventing breast cancer recurrence and increasing positive testosterone as a performance enhancement in sports.
It has long been known that drugs or biomedical drugs, some of which have not even been tested on humans, have been manipulated in the sports world without any guidance.
We can admit that drugs intended for women with breast cancer may be rejected for their use is amazing, even if you think you’ve already seen or heard almost everything!