Substance found in Pistorius' home identified

GERALD IMRAY
Last updated 09:00 28/02/2013
Oscar Pistorius
PERFORMANCE ENHANCING: The substance found in Oscar Pistorius' home was a herbal remedy used to help muscle recovery and is commonly marketed as a sexual enhancer.

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Oscar Pistorius' representatives named the substance found in his bedroom after the shooting death of his girlfriend as Testis compositum and said it is an herbal remedy used "in aid of muscle recovery."

A product called Testis compositum is also marketed online in both oral and injectable forms as a testosterone booster and a sexual enhancer. Some online retailers also say it can be used to treat tiredness.

Pistorius' lawyers, through his public relations firm, did not give details as to whether the product they named was the same one marketed in the US as a sexual enhancer with pig testicles, pig heart and pig embryo among its ingredients.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said its science department had already been made aware of the substance and that it wasn't banned.

"It would appear to be a homeopathic treatment, and these treatments are not prohibited by the List," WADA said in a statement.

South African police said during Pistorius' bail hearing last week that they found needles in Pistorius' bedroom along with the substance, which a detective initially named in court testimony as testosterone. Prosecutors later withdrew that statement identifying the substance and said it had been sent for laboratory tests and couldn't be named until those tests were completed and returned.

Pistorius family spokesperson Lunice Johnston said in an email that the athlete's lawyers had "confirmed" that the substance is Testis compositum. In court last week, Pistorius' defence lawyer Barry Roux said the substance police found in Pistorius' home after the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp was not banned by sports authorities, but it had been unclear what it was and what the exact name was.

In her email, spokesperson Johnston wrote that Pistorius' legal team said "that the herbal remedy found was Testis compositum and is use(d) in aid of muscle recovery." No further details were immediately available from Pistorius' lawyers.

Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, said he had not heard of the product but that it sounded like "a real cocktail, all pointing in the same direction, namely having something to do with testosterone."

"This sounds to me like something that needs to be analysed in order to make sure what it is," Ljungqvist said in a phone interview. "You cannot ban something simply on claims and names. It needs to be looked into. Even saying that it is testosterone boosting, it could contain some precursors. It needs to have some analysis."

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Pieter Van Der Merwe, director of South Africa's Doping Control Laboratory in Bloemfontein, declined to comment this week on questions over whether a sample from Pistorius had been sent to that laboratory for testing. Police took Pistorius for a medical examination when he was arrested on February 14, which included blood-alcohol tests, they said. The substance found in his bedroom was also being tested by police, who hadn't yet released results of their tests.

Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion, underwent two doping tests in London last year around the Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee has said. He tested negative for any banned substances in both tests in August and September.

A product called Testis compositum is made by Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH, based in Baden-Baden, Germany. The company website says it is one of the world's leading makers of homeopathic combination medications.

A US subsidiary, Heel USA Inc., markets the product in tablet form only and spokeswoman Joan Sullivan said she didn't know if injectable versions are sold in other countries. Heel USA's website says the product provides temporary relief for men's "sexual weakness" and lack of stamina.

The US-sold tablets contain 23 ingredients, including pig testicles, pig heart, pig embryo and pig adrenal gland, cortisone, ginseng and other botanicals. It also contains several minerals, according to a list Sullivan provided.

Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor emeritus and expert on steroid use in sports, said animal steroids likely wouldn't have an athletic performance-enhancing effect unless taken in huge quantities. Even so, he said many elite athletes would be wary of using such supplements because they can be laced with banned substances and few would want to risk it.

The company website listed a South African subsidiary as ModHomCo (Pty) Ltd., based in Centurion, near Pretoria. That company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day shooting death of girlfriend and model Steenkamp. He says he shot her by accident after mistaking her for an intruder in his home. Prosecutors allege he intended to kill her. 

- AP

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