33 year-old Italian triathlete Andrea Pizzeghella has been provisionally suspended by the National Anti Doping Organization (NADO) after returning a positive anti-doping test result for Bodenone, a powerful anabolic steroid developed for veterinary use in horses.

Pizzeghella, one of Italy’s top triathletes, is accused of violated anti-doping articles 2.1, which states“Presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in the biological sample of an Athlete” and 2.2, “Use or Attempted Use by an Athlete of a Substance or Method Forbidden.”

With a chemical structure that’s nearly identical to testosterone, Boldenone can stimulate protein synthesis and the release of erythropoietin (EPO), helping to build significant muscle mass and strength, though it is rare for endurance sport athletes like marathoners, triathletes, nordic skiers and road cyclists to use the drug.

While Boldenone can be obtained illegally through veterinary clinics and illicit online stores, athletes may also find to their surprise that it has been found “off-label” in some unregulated over the counter nutritional supplements.

There is no therapeutic or medical use for Boldenone in humans. Medical lab studies show it can significantly harm the reproductive system and fertility of males, including decreased testes size, lower sperm count, and poor sperm mobility. In addition, it is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

In 2020 Colombian track cyclist Fabian Puerta was given a four-year suspension after testing positive for Boldenone. He tried using the“I may have eaten Bolderone tainted meat” defense, but an anti doping court ultimately still found him guilty of doping.

Anti doping agencies worldwide apply a Strict Liability – Ignorance Is No Excuse policy to all doping violations, which states: 1) An anti-doping rule violation occurs whenever a prohibited substance is found in an athlete’s bodily specimen. 2) The violation occurs whether or not the athlete intentionally or unintentionally used a prohibited substance or was negligent or otherwise at fault.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Stradivari Triathlon