Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation after a failed drugs test. According to the ITF, a June 4th drug test at the Croatia Open came back positive for selective androgen receptor modulators, commonly known as ‘SARMs’. Haddad Maia was informed of her violation on July 12th and has the, as yet unexercised, option to appeal her provisional suspension to the ITF.
SARMs: Why are Athletes Using Them?
SARMs have recently been under the spotlight, but have been around for quite a while. Despite being available for purchase as research chemicals in order to maintain legality, SARMs have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and several major sports governing bodies.
There are several varieties of SARMs such as Ostarine, Cardarine, and Andarine, which were created as a safer alternative to steroids to treat muscle wasting in osteoporosis patients. Despite research on certain SARMs, there are few details on their potential long-term side effects and they are not available for prescription by medical professionals. Some athletes, notably in bodybuilding, have used one or more of these substances in order to achieve steroid-like results, as like steroids, they can increase strength and endurance.
In the past, they have gone undetected in many drug tests because they tend not to affect hormone levels to the degree an anabolic steroid would. However, several athletes have tested positive for the SARM ostarine, including former Clemson University footballer Dexter Lawrence, current NBA player Alonzo Trier and Jimmy Walhead of the UFC. Athletes have claimed that they purchased supplements contained ostarine without their knowledge, with Wallhead sending the supplement he had used to WADA. It tested positive for ostarine despite the label not listing it.
What is Next for Beatriz Haddad Maia?
It is unknown which SARM Haddad Maia tested positive for. Another unknown is if she will raise a similar defense as other athletes that tested positive. As a result, it is difficult to know what sort of punishment, if any, she is likely to receive beyond the current provisional suspension. Sports’ governing bodies have a difficult time handling these situations due to minimal regulation within the supplement industry. Many products may have banned substances in them without listening to them as an ingredient. Until that situation is resolved, it will be up to athletes to use extreme caution when deciding what type of supplements to use or face the same consequences as Haddad Maia.
Embed from Getty Images