Saturday, July 16, 2011

Postive Steroid Test for North Korean Players in World Cup; Blame is on Lightning Strikes

FIFA officials have announced that a total of five players from the North Korean team have tested positive for steroids.  Random testing earlier in the tournament found the first two violators, and then FIFA tested the entire team and found another three.

This is the first doping scandal to occur at a major FIFA event in 17 years.
In the 1994 World Cup, Diego Maradonna of Argentina was found to have doped with stimulants and was ejected from the tournament.

North Korea Claims Lightning Struck Players June 8 

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says that when they notified the North Korean Federation of the violations, they received an interesting reply to explain the positive tests.
"(They) wrote to us and they presented their excuses. They said that a lightning strike was responsible for this."
For those soccer fans paying attention, remember this was the same lightning strike that the North Koreans blamed for their poor play in the tournament.  Supposedly occurring June 8 during a training match, the North Koreans didn't mention or publicize this until after their defeat by the  United States in group play.

North Korean coach Kim Kwang-Min disclosed the incident in a press conference following the U.S. match.  There he claimed that the lightning incident affected the goalie, the defenders, and some of the midfielders. Of FIFA's report on who had tested positive, the only two players that have been identified were both defenders.

Koreans Claim Traditional Chinese Medicine Source Of Positive Steroid Tests

North Korea now claims that in its treatment for the affected "lightning-strike" players, a Chinese herbal medicine was used.  Extract from a musk deer gland was given to the players,  and it is this substance that they say probably contained the steroids.

This musk extract is a very valuable ingredient in many Chinese remedies, and is used as a detoxifying agent and to treat fever, inflammation, swelling, and pain.  While the main ingredient is typically muscone, a naturally occurring organic pheromone, the remedy used could have been tainted with the offending steroid that caused the positive test.  Steroids also have the same anti-inflammatory effects as the Chinese musk remedy.

FIFA officials have only said that the steroids in question were anabolic, which don't have the same anti-inflammatory properties of their catabolic cousins (like cortisol and prednisone).

The North Koreans have submitted a sample of the medicine used to treat the accused athletes, and perhaps more information will be forthcoming.

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