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19.01.2009


Ephedrine and steroids mix proved fatal for fitness champion

Pathologists should look more carefully for steroids and other ergogenic substances when investigating the deaths of young sportswomen. The use of body-changing drugs among women may well be more widespread than we think, concludes Swedish pathologist Ingemar Thiblin in Forensic Science International.
Ephedrine and steroids mix proved fatal for fitness champion
In the article he discusses the death under suspicious circumstances of a 29-year-old Swedish female fitness champion.

Thiblin has been studying the relationship between anabolics and death since the nineties. He has published articles on the relationship between firearms violence and steroids, death and steroids, and suicide and steroids. In Forensic Science International he describes what he discovered when he examined the body of the Swedish national fitness champion just days after winning an important Swedish competition.

The woman was found dead in her bedroom. She had a record for prostitution and steroids use.

In the diary that investigators found in her house the woman also referred to steroids. According to entries in the
Ephedrine and steroids mix proved fatal for fitness champion
diary, the athlete had been taking steroids between September of the previous year and May of the year she died. In her diary she wrote that she sometimes felt “empty”, but nowhere does she mention suicidal tendencies.

The post mortem turned up no signs of alcohol or drugs in her blood. The verdict of suicide as a result of an overdose of substances was therefore excluded.

In her urine the pathologists did find evidence of steroids use: the woman had abnormally high levels of testosterone in her urine. Thiblin also found traces of [fairly large amounts of] boldenon and stanozolol. The stimulant ephedrine was also found in her blood.

Her body was pretty much as you'd expect the body of a fitness champion to be: muscular, little fat and silicone implants. Her liver, kidneys and lungs were larger than normal, her uterus and adrenals were smaller. Her heart muscle was normal.

The pathologists concluded that the athlete died of a sudden heart attack. A process of inflammation had probably already started in the heart muscle. The pathologists found immune cells in the heart muscle, which are an indication of inflammatory processes. These proved fatal in combination with steroids and ephedrine.

If apparently healthy women die of a heart attack, pathologists should not automatically assume that the cause of death is natural, Thiblin writes. "We believe that there is need both for increased surveillance and for research regarding the adverse effects of doping agents, including their possible role in lethal poly-drug misuse."

Sources:
Forensic Sci Int. 2008 Dec 23. [Epub ahead of print].

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