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Jenrry Mejia tests positive for stanozolol, so what is it?

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Jenrry Mejia is one of four major leaguers to recently test positive for stanozolol.Jeff Roberson/AP

Jenrry Mejia is one of four major leaguers to recently test positive for stanozolol.

Four Major League Baseball players have tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol since March 27, the most recent being Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia. The others are David Rollins of the Mariners, the Braves’ Arodys Vizcaino and Ervin Santana of the Twins.

So what gives? Why are players suddenly testing positive for an old-school drug?

Stanozolol (also known by its brand name Winstrol) is a hard-core steroid, which stays in the system for more than a month if taken orally and up to three months if injected (the injectable form of the drug has been used by veterinarians, but it is no longer commercially available in the U.S. and so is not used routinely now in this country, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association). It first came on the market in 1962 and consists of a four-ring drug structure, which means it is easily spotted in a drug test. Masking agents do not hide its presence.

Why are players taking it?

“It’s a powerful muscle builder,” says BALCO founder Victor Conte, who spent four months in prison for steroid distribution but is now an antidoping advocate. “The question is how do they think they can take stanozolol and not test positive? You can beat a test much easier with fast-acting testosterone. No one who knows they’re going to be tested these days should knowingly take this.”

Where is it coming from?

According to Conte, possibly an underground lab or compounding pharmacy, or a common trainer or agent. “Or,” Conte says, “it looks similar in appearance to (fast-acting) testosterone, kind of milky white, so maybe people are confusing the two. No one who knows they’re going to be tested these days should knowingly take this.”

Who takes it?

Anyone looking for anabolic enhancement (muscle building) and is willing to take the health risks (liver damage). It’s popular among body builders and track athletes, and football and baseball players took it before drug-testing came into vogue in professional sports. Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for it in 2005. Ben Johnson also tested positive for stanozolol in the 1988 Olympics and was stripped of his gold medal in the 100 meters.

Does it work?

“Yes, it works,” says Conte. “It helps players get stronger, build muscle mass, boost acceleration, recover faster from workouts and become more aggressive.

“But if they’re knowingly taking it, the wave of stupidity is amazing.”

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