Police have launched a criminal investigation after a coach said Tuesday that he fed a 17-year-old swimmer steroids without her knowledge.
The swimmer, Anita Stepanenko, emerged as having a positive doping sample during an Estonia vs. Finland swim tournament in May. Officials say she tested positive for stanozolol, reported sport.err.ee.
Stepanenko and her coach, Nikolai Borzov, who also made headlines in June for drunken driving, both released statements claiming that the coach administered the steroid in secret.
Borzov has been sacked and Stepanenko suspended pending a decision by anti-doping authorities.
A board member of the Estonian Anti-Doping Foundation, Kristjan Port, likened the incident to child abuse.
“It is indisputably an ethical issue. Having just read about child sex abuse in a newspaper today, I believe this is a very similar activity – in the sense that children are used to serve the interests of adults. Whereas all the risks are carried by the child. It is an extremely inappropriate and cruel activity,” he said, adding that there is uncertainty as to how widespread doping is among junior athletes in Estonia.
The head of Estonian Sports Medicine Foundation, Mihkel Mardna, warned of the health consequences of anabolic steroids. “Beginning with changes to secondary sex characteristics, which women are especially prone to. Also, internal organs can be damaged after long-term use and that damage may be irreversible,” Mardna said.
Commenting on an investigation initiated by police yesterday, Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Arno Põder told ETV: “In Estonia, assisting in the use of doping through different means is a criminally punishable offense. This includes prescribing a medication for use as a doping, inducing someone to use doping and providing doping.”
Swim Association President Karol Kovanen said: “This is a very serious incident. The coach’s behavior has been completely irresponsible and in violation of all general association principles. The only thing they did right was that they confessed.”
“We hope that the incident does not preemptively cast a shadow on the whole club and instead that there is understanding that, according to current information, we are dealing with the activity of a lone coach.”