Fireworks during the closing ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who famously tested positive after winning the 100m sprint gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

STANOZOLOL is arguably the most notorious performing enhancing anabolic steroid there is be it in professional sports or for recreational use.

A Malaysian weightlifter recently tested positive for the drug in a pre-Gold Coast Commonwealth Games anti-doping screening and is currently awaiting B sample testing.

And if the B test also returns positive, the weightlifter will likely face a lengthy suspension.

The International Weightlifting Federation's (IWF) sanction list features more than 140 athletes who tested positive for stanozolol since 2008, making it one of the most common drugs in the sport.

The drug has been around for decades.

Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who famously tested positive after winning the 100m sprint gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was also been found with the same substance in his system during the competition.

A source with intimate knowledge of the national weightlifting setup claims the usage of stanozolol is also nothing new here in Malaysia.

"Yes, stanozolol has been used by weightlifters as a performance enhancer but it is actually more commonly used by bodybuilders," said the source.

"It helps bodybuilders in terms of muscle growth but weightlifters also benefit in terms of energy. However, I believe the benefits are not that great for weightlifters.

"It is probably more of a psychological boost as the weightlifters on it believe they have an advantage by using it.

"It is also easily available for purchase and does not cost much. It is sold under a number of brand names such as Winstrol but there are quite a few other brands as well.

"The main substance in these brands are usually the same (stanozolol) but they may also be mixed with a number of other substances."

The source stressed that the use of stanozolol without proper supervision is almost certain to cause a failed urine test.

"Stanozolol can be taken in pill form or through injection. In the past, it could clear up from a person's urine within two weeks if taken via pill.

"But it lasts much longer, up to six months even, if taken through an injection. Anybody taking stanozolol without the correct supervision will definitely fail drug testing.

"There is a fine line between passing and failing a test, and someone using it without the right knowledge will not know the parameters they have to stay within.

"There are certain parties who study in detail how to beat the system but it is not done here in Malaysia."

The source said the side effects caused by stanozolol can be very obvious and often come back to haunt an athlete later in life.

"You can tell if a person is on stanozolol, the first thing that will happen is their skin will become coarse. It can also cause strange looking pimples, hair loss and also cause the eyes to become slightly yellow or brown.

"As it also affects the hormones, it causes females to develop male characteristics such as a coarse voice while males develop female characteristics. It is known to cause water retention in men’s breasts.

"The worst effects, however, will come when they are in their 40's and approaching their 50's. I have known a lot of bodybuilders who have used it since they were young.

"Many of them now suffer high blood pressure, splitting headaches and in some cases even memory loss, so it can be quite serious."

The Malaysian weightlifter who tested positive with the drug will likely face a mandatory four-year ban if the B sample also returns the same result.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) views anabolic steroids seriously as it is a clear cut performance enhancing substance.

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