Antoni Niemczak, the Polish national marathon champion who finished second in the New York Marathon Nov. 2, has been told he tested positive for anabolic steroids, friends of the runner told The Times.
Niemczak, 31, a teacher from Wroclaw, was informed last week that traces of Nandrolin injectable, a steroid once commonly used in treatment of anemia and renal insufficiency, was found in his urinalysis. Nandrolin injectable is no longer used in the United States, pharmacologists said, but can be found in similar forms throughout Europe.
Anabolic steroids, synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, are on the banned substance list of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
Niemczak, contacted late Tuesday night in Honolulu, where he plans to run in the Honolulu Marathon in two weeks, said through an interpreter that the test results surprised him.
"I'm not worried," he said. "I think there is a misunderstanding. I'm not guilty of doing anything wrong."
Niemczak had told friends he had dental surgery in October, then returned to his dentist Oct. 16 because he was having complications.
"I was very weak; I was losing blood," he had said. "I told the doctor that I wanted to train and he said he had something to make me stronger. I don't know what he gave me, but it was a shot."
John Holt, IAAF general secretary, told the Associated Press that a second sample was tested Tuesday in Los Angeles, with results unavailable. Fred Lebow, New York Marathon race director, confirmed that the testing was done by Dr. Don Catlin at the UCLA School of Medicine. Catlin's laboratory is affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee and was used to test athletes in the 1984 Summer Olympics.
"We would not have received official news until the second sample was taken," Holt said in London. "But we do know that there is a second test being conducted and we believe it is on the sample of the Polish athlete."
Niemczak, who ran the marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes 21 seconds, finished second to Italy's Gianni Poli (2:11:06). Niemczak earned $25,000 but will not be paid until his case is cleared, Lebow said.