Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
Pregnancy cat. X (US)
Legal status Schedule III (US)
Routes Intramuscular
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 2.24% (Oral)
100% (Intramuscular)
Metabolism Hepatic
Half-life 6 days
Excretion approximate 21 days
CAS number 434-22-0 YesY
ATC code A14AB01
PubChem CID 9904
DrugBank DB00984
ChemSpider 9520 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C18H26O2 
Mol. mass 274.40
SMILES eMolecules & PubChem
 N(what is this?)  (verify)

Nandrolone (19-nortestosterone) is an anabolic steroid that may be present naturally in the human body, albeit in minute quantities of less than 0.4 ng/ml.[citation needed] Nandrolone is most commonly sold commercially as its decanoate ester (Deca-Durabolin) and less commonly as a phenylpropionate ester (Durabolin). Nandrolone decanoate is used in the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (though now not recommended) at a dose of 50 mg every three weeks. It is also used for some aplastic anaemias.



The positive effects of the drug include muscle growth, appetite stimulation and increased red blood cell production and bone density. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective in treating anaemia, osteoporosis and some forms of neoplasia including breast cancer, and also acts as a progestin-based contraceptive. For these reasons,[citation needed] in the United States nandrolone received FDA approval in 1983.

Because nandrolone is not broken down into DHT, the deleterious effects common to most anabolic steroids on the scalp, skin, and prostate are lessened to a degree; but is rather broken down to the much weaker androgen dihydronandrolone. The lack of alkylation on the 17α-carbon drastically reduces the drug's liver toxicity. Estrogenic effects resulting from reaction with aromatase are also mitigated as a result of the drug being a progestin, but effects such as gynaecomastia and reduced libido still occur in larger doses. Other side-effects of abuse can include erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular damage, as well as several ailments resulting from the drug's effect of lowering levels of luteinizing hormone through negative feedback. Erectile dysfunction is attributed to the weaker action of dihydronandrolone in the penis since dihydrotestosterone is a known sexual modulator.

Detection methods

Nandrolone use is directly detectable in hair or indirectly detectable in urine by testing for the presence of 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite. The International Olympic Committee has set a limit of 2.0 μg/L of 19-norandrosterone in urine as the upper limit, beyond which an athlete is suspected of doping. In the largest nandrolone study performed on 621 athletes at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games, no athlete tested over 0.4 μg/L. 19-Norandrosterone was identified as a trace contaminant in commercial preparations of androstenedione, which until 2004 was available without a prescription as a dietary supplement in the U.S.[1][2][3][4]

A number of nandrolone cases in athletics occurred in 1999, which included high profile athletes such as Merlene Ottey, Dieter Baumann and Linford Christie.[5] However, the following year the detection method for nandrolone at the time was proved to be faulty. Mark Richardson, a British Olympic relay runner who tested positive for the substance, gave a significant amount of urine samples in a controlled environment and delivered a positive test for the drug, demonstrating that false positives could occur, which led to an overhaul of his competitive ban.[6]

Heavy consumption of the essential amino acid lysine (as indicated in the treatment of cold sores) has allegedly shown false positives in some and was cited by American shotputter C.J. Hunter as the reason for his positive test, though in 2004 he admitted to a federal grand jury that he had injected nandrolone.[7] A possible cause of incorrect urine test results is the presence of metabolites from other anabolic steroids, though modern urinalysis can usually determine the exact steroid used by analyzing the ratio of the two remaining nandrolone metabolites. As a result of the numerous overturned verdicts, the testing procedure was reviewed by UK Sport. On October 5, 2007, five-time gold medalist for track and field Marion Jones admitted to use of the drug, and was sentenced to six months in jail for lying to a federal grand jury in 2000.[8][9]

QV Nandrolone Deca, a form of nandrolone used by athletes.

Mass Spectrometry is also used to detect small samples of nandrolone in urine samples, as it has a unique molar mass.

Publicized cases


  1. ^ Bresson M, Cirimele V, Villain M, Kintz P. Doping control for metandienone using hair analyzed by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. J. Chrom. B 836: 124-128, 2006.
  2. ^ M. Ueki, A. Ikekita, Y. Takao. Nandrolone metabolite in urine of Nagano Olympic athlete. Jap. J. For. Tox. 18: 198-199, 2000.
  3. ^ Catlin DH, Leder BZ, Ahrens B et al. Trace contamination of over-the-counter androstenedione and positive urine test results for a nandrolone metabolite. JAMA 284: 2618-2621, 2000.
  4. ^ R. Baselt, Disposition of Toxic Drugs and Chemicals in Man, 8th edition, Biomedical Publications, Foster City, CA, 2008, pp. 1078-1080.
  5. ^ Baron, Peter (2000-09-19). The Drugs Issue: Baumann to fight all the way. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  6. ^ Richardson, Mark (2004-02-19). 'It was as daunting a line-up as I had ever faced on athletics tracks'. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  8. ^
  9. ^[dead link]
  10. ^ "Korda failed Wimbledon drugs test". BBC. December 23, 1998. 
  11. ^ All-Star Roster Shows Up on Mitchell Report, 12-13-2007
  12. ^ Great Wasn't Good Enough, 26 March 2006
  13. ^ "Royce Gracie Suspended, Fined For Steroids | Boxing". Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Cricinfo - A tale of intrigue, injuries and incidents". January 1, 1970. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Sean Sherk". Cage Potato. January 1, 1970. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  16. ^ "". BBC News. August 4, 1999. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Former NBA player banned after steroid test". USA Today. February 13, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Three Minor League players suspended". September 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ Indian athlete Rani Yadav fails dope test at Commonwealth Games, The Times of India, October 13, 2010.
  20. ^ "". BBC News. January 9, 2004. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 
  21. ^ "". BBC News. March 10, 2004. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 
  22. ^ "List of Sportspeople Sanctioned for Doping Offences". Wikipedia. 2011. Retrieved September 07, 2011. 

External links

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  • nandrolone — [[t]næ̱ndrəloʊn[/t]] N UNCOUNT Nandrolone is type of drug that can improve performance in sports and is used illegally by some sportspeople …   English dictionary

  • nandrolone decanoate — [USP] an ester of nandrolone having a long duration of action, used in the treatment of severe growth retardation in children and as an adjunct in the treatment of chronic wasting diseases and anemia associated with renal insufficiency;… …   Medical dictionary

  • nandrolone phenpropionate — [USP] an ester of nandrolone having a moderate duration of action, used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and of severe growth retardation in children; administered intramuscularly …   Medical dictionary

  • nandrolone — noun Etymology: perhaps from nor + andr + 1 ol + testosterone Date: 1963 a semisynthetic anabolic steroid C18H26O2 derived from testosterone and used chiefly in the form of various ester derivatives …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • nandrolone — noun An anabolic steroid, 19 nortestosterone, that may be present naturally in minute quantities in the human body …   Wiktionary

  • nandrolone — A semisynthetic, parenterally administered, anabolic, androgenic steroid. n. decanoate an anabolic androgen. n. phenpropionate a moderately long acting synthetic anabolic androgen. SYN: n. phenylpropionate …   Medical dictionary

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