Olympic athlete Ajee Wilson was stripped of her record holding title after a false positive drug test conducted after her win. The substance in question was zeranol, which is on the prohibited list for all professional athletes. Fortunately, Wilson will not face suspension after it was concluded the zeranol that was found in her system was due to beef that had been raised with the growth-promoting hormone which she ate “without fault or negligence.”
How did this happen?
Wilson was tested, as per standard, before the NYRR Millrose Games, “the world’s longest running and most prestigious indoor track & field competition” as acclaimed by their website. After coming up negative on her drug test, she went on to not only compete, but set a world record for the 800 Meter Dash with an astounding 1:58.27 run.
After winning she was administered a urine drug test, standard in record setting cases, where she tested positive for the prohibited hormone which is often found in beef due to hormone injections in the beef while in production. After providing the receipts for the beef, yes, she kept them, and reviewing a very detailed meal plan for the athlete, it was concluded that the test after the race was a false positive due to contaminated meat the athlete had ingested; but of course, this raised more questions.
Raised Concerns for Other Athletes
If trace amounts of zeranol are found in beef, why aren’t more athletes testing positive for it? And why is this hormone even banned in the first place?
According to Canadian Cattlemen, “Zeranol, which is the active ingredient in the name brand, Ralgro, isn’t a steroid, but acts like a steroid by binding to the estrogen receptor. It is a synthetic form of the natural estrogen, zearalenone.” And this is why it is most likely on the banned list. As far has the positive results, due to the lack of regulated standards in growth hormones in the food industry, it is speculated Wilson could have ingested a piece of beef that was very high in zeranol without realizing it since no noticeable traits give it away until it is too late.
The USADA attempted to calm concerns by demonstrating how very rare a positive test for zeranol is: “Across the millions of urine analyses conducted and reported by WADA since 2003, there have been just six positive tests globally. Over the last 15 years, USADA has also performed more than 100,000 tests, and there has been only one zeranol positive.”
But this again begs the question, if Ajee Wilson had ate a perfectly normal beef burger or juice steak any other day in her life, like thousands of athletes do every year, why did it show up positive just this once? Is a bad batch of meat simply the answer?