121 DOPING 35 YEARS AGO

Big headlines in the paper of Saturday, June 6 1981: “Van de Velde and Maas caught” and further on we read that Johan van de Velde was said to be found positive after Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which he won on April 19. Jo Maas was caught after the stage in the Tour of Belgium on April 24, were he was the stage winner.

Furthermore we read: “Last Wednesday at 11 o’clock in the morning the mass-spectrometers in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Manfred Donike of Cologne proved for the second time that Deca-durabolin was present in the urine of Van der Velde and Maas when they handed in their sample. Deca-durabolin is an artificially made hormone substance. Yesterday Jo Maas was very impressed by this doping message. He denied in the strongest possible terms. “After the finish of the Tour of Belgium in Brussels I was the first to be at the doping control. There was a Polish doping tester of the Cycling Association sitting at a table. The three bottles stood there. Of course I knew that I had to be tested because I was the winner. This is not the way in which a doping sinner behaves”. Johan Van der Velde’s reaction was very short: “Everyone knows that the Tour de France is my top priority this year. Why should I use doping in spring then?”

Both riders have subsequently asked the Maastricht lawyer Mr. Max Moszkowicz to sue the Belgian Cycling Association, because they had the opinion that there were some mistakes in the procedure and they were the victims.

Eventually Jo Maas got ten minutes punishment resulting in the twelfth place in the final classification. The victory now went to number two, Ad Wijnands, of Maastricht just like Jo Maas. Johan Van der Velde’s victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege was taken away from him. Now the Swiss Joseph Fuchs was declared the winner.

Comment Peter Janssen

I found the above newspaper item in my cycling archive that I held at the time. I still remember vividly the attention it received on radio and television. And the newspapers were filled with it. But after a few days everything settled down and it seemed as if nothing had happened. So doping did get attention but by far not as much as today. A rider who was caught could go on with his career. The press did not treat him as a criminal. And the colleague riders considered it as a case of sheer bad luck and not as foul or dishonest play. The same could have happened to them. Just look at the punishments of that time: 10 minutes time punishment for Jo Maas and Johan Van der Velde’s victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege – one of the most important classics of the year – was taken away from him. So within a short period of time much has changed in the acceptance of doping by the public and especially the press. The acceptance of that time has completely changed in the present time. A well-balanced liberal opinion about doping is not accepted any more. In my opinion the sanctions are disturbingly fierce. A very light breach of the rules may lead to four years suspension. That means: end of career and the brand mark of a doping culprit, cheater or criminal for life. The World Anti Doping Agency, WADA, has an annual budget of half a billion Euros, and that is not enough for the few culprits they catch every year. One positive case costs nearly a million Euros. But Sir Graig Creedy and his henchmen keep begging for more and more money. WADA and its puppet show is a dead end. WADA causes more damage to the sport than doping itself.

DECA-DURABOLIN OR NANDROLON

Cyclists used deca-durabolin very often some 35 years ago. In a soothing tone of voice they said: “I made a small deca”, which meant that the rider had injected himself with 100 or 200 mg of deca-durabolin. This mostly happened deep intra-muscular in the buttock. Deca-durabolin was and still is one of the most popular anabolic androgynous steroids, it is also called Nandrolon. When a pro cyclist of that time said that he had taken well care of himself during the winter, when there were no races this meant that he had given himself once or twice a deca-durabolin. This was common practice for every serious pro cyclist at the time.

121-2

The doping Laboratories slowly evolved and though they knew little of doping at the start their understanding grew bit by bit over the years. The pioneer of the first hour was the chemist Manfred Donike of the German doping laboratory of Cologne. He was the doping expert of the IOC who was the first to develop doping tests in 1979 to find anabolic steroids in the urine of doped riders. Moreover, Manfred Donike had been a pro cyclist for some years and on that basis he knew about doping practices in cycling. Because the knowledge about doping increased and the methods to find banned substances became better and better there came a time that more riders were caught on deca-durabolin; that was a logical development that could be expected.

In my first year as a team doctor I met a rider who had used nandrolon. He felt a bit weak during a training stage before the season in the south of France in February, and an over-zealous masseur got the advice from the local pharmacist to inject one or two shots of nandrolon. This without consulting me, the team doctor. A check after the training stage showed a clearly nandrolon positive urine test. But the doping institution could not tell me for how long the rider would remain positive. So therefore my wife went to the doping laboratory of Utrecht every week with a bottle of urine for a nandrolon test. This was annoying enough for it was not before the last week of June that the urine was found to be clean. That was 18 weeks later. The explanation is two-fold:

  • Nandrolon or deca-durabolin is a solution in a fatty, colorless oily substance. This substance forms a depot deep in the gluteus. And that depot slowly releases the effective agent to the body. It lasts some 18 weeks before the depot is emptied and the team has a rider who cannot race during that period.
  • The tests to find nandrolon got better and better. This meant amongst others that even small quantities of nandrolon could be found.

This seemed to be the end of the problem and we had learned our lesson. The rider could race again with a clean conscience. He had to go to doping controls regularly and all tests were negative. But this in itself does not prove anything because not every test looks for nandrolon.

Until we received a message from the doping laboratory in mid August that the rider in question was found positive with nandrolon. It was a very small amount but the test was undoubtedly positive.

Explanation: after the first negative test the depot within the muscle still releases nandrolon. In the one cases just enough to surpass the detection limit; in the other case just below that line. I then read an article about body builders who could explain this phenomenon with a test. The very moment when the depot was empty the bodybuilders were put to a test. They had been injected in the upper arm. At the moment when the urine test was negative for the first time a urine sample was taken before a power workout. After that the did a power workout with the arm in which had been injected.

The result was clear. Before the workout all urine samples were negative and after the workout all samples were positive. Conclusion: the workout in which the muscles contract every time causes the depot to release nandrolon again.

After reading this story it is clear why the riders are so convinced that a positive nandrolon test must be false. Up to today they are convinced that a nandrolon injection has disappeared after two to at most four weeks. A positive nandrolon test resulting from an injection of six months ago cannot and will not be believed by most riders.