Sunday, July 17, 2011

Women's World Cup- Musk Deer Glands Blamed for Failed Steroids Test

North Korean Women's Team

It has been recently reported that five North Korean soccer players at the Women's World Cup had tested positive for steroids. Officials blamed the traditional medicine using glands from musk deer for the shocking results. Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, expressed his feelings that it was truly shocking after two players were caught during the tournament this month and three others were revealed after testing the entire North Korean squad. This was the second doping incident in the history of the Women's World Cup. The first one occurred in late June when Yineth Varon of Colombia was suspended after failing an out-of-competition test before the World Cup. According to the Colombian Football Federation, Varon had hormonal treatment which led to a failed drug test.
Siberian musk deer

FIFA had heard from the North Korean delegation that the steroids were taken accidentally with traditional Chinese medicines based on musk deer glands. The medicines were used to treat those players who had been struck by lightning on June 8th during a training session. Among the players who tested positive were defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim. They were suspended for the last match after North Korea's first two group games. According to Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's chief medical officer, this was the first case in which musk deer gland was discovered. The North Korean team mentioned the lightning incident after losing their opening match to the United States. But when the officials were asked about that, they refused to clarify on the circumstances.
Song Jong Sun was one of five women suspended on doping charges

I think this report clearly highlights one of the dangers of the illegal wildlife trade, and also contradicts that none of the body parts of different animals have medicinal purposes. In this case, it was the musk deer. Usually, its gland has been highly valued in the perfume industry which put the deer on the brink of extinction. However, in terms of traditional Chinese medicine, the gland is viewed as a medicinal source as with several other body parts of endangered species. According to the North Korean account, the gland was used in treating players that had been struck by lightning during a training session. During the process, steroids were taken accidentally. It appears that somehow the drugs were unexpectedly injected into the parts of bodies of those women who were being treated after the lightning strike. It seems that maybe they were under the impression that the liquid extracted from the musk deer would somehow shield the steroids from affecting the their bodies such that they would not fail the test. Unfortunately, it never worked as hoped. And that is why the officials blamed the musk deer glands for causing those players who tested positive for steroids. My theory is that no matter what type of medicine taken along with steroids to treat an abdominal wound, steroids will always affect the body and mind even after one is fully recovered from the wound.

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