Anabolic Steroids. Ben Johnson was caught taking them. Arnold Schwarzeneggar admitted to using them (Yesalis, 1993) and over 500,000 high school seniors and 2-3 million athletes in the U.S. are taking them (Buckley,et. al, 1988). These numbers were corroborated by a 1999 National Institute on Drug Abuse study (See link below).
Since Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use in the 1988 Olympics, steroids have become one of he most controversial issues in the history of sports. From Olympic medalists and NFL superstars to gym rats and weekend warriors, steroids are spreading like wildfire to all levels and types of sports. With black market sales ranging from $100 to $500 million per year, steroids have become the number one area of drug counterfeiting in the U.S.(Yesalis, 1993). However, steroids have been used by athletes for 50 years in an attempt to get stronger and enhance performance.
What are steroids, how do they work, why do athletes take them, what are there uses and dangers and how are they taken are some of the questions this article will answer.
Anabolic steroids are more properly termed anabolic-androgenic steroids. They are basically synthetic derivatives of the naturally produced male hormone called testosterone. This is the hormone that makes a man a man. It is responsible for the development of the penis and testes, growth of body and facial hair, and deepening of the voice. These are the androgenic effects. It also causes increased growth of bone and muscle. These are the anabolic effects. All steroids are anabolic and androgenic in their effects but some have been developed to try to minimize the androgenic effects (Goldman, 1992).
Steroids work by enabling he body's muscle cells to produce more protein which, as long as the athlete works out, increases the size and strength of the muscle. This also allows the body to produce more of the "fuel", called ATP, used to make muscles move.
Anabolic steroids were first isolated and chemically characterized during the 1930's and in WWII it is rumored that the Germans used steroids to increase the aggressiveness of their troops (Yesalis, 1993). In the 1950's an American physician and weightlifter discovered the use of testosterone by Russian weightlifters. After experimentation on himself, he developed a synthetic steroid. He wrote about his discovery in popular bodybuilding magazines and thus the craze began (Goldman, 1984).
Steroids are commonly taken in two forms - oral (pill) or injectable (shots). The site of injection is usually the upper outer quadrant of the buttocks. However, athletes have been known to inject specific sites with the hope of increasing size and/or strength in that area. Unfortunately for them this does not work and can damage the injection site.
The underground market may account for as much as 80% of the drug sales. Some of these drugs are produced in the U.S. where they are available by prescription only, but a large supply comes from Mexico where sales are legal and do not require a prescription. Smuggling the drugs into the U.S. is illegal. The Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990 became law on November 29, 1990. Steroids are considered Schedule III drugs (like barbiturates, LSD precursors, veterinary tranquilizers like ketamine and narcotic painkillers like Vicodin. Simple possession of any Schedule III substance is a federal offense punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000. For more information on laws regarding steroids see Steroid Law.
In October 2004, President Bush signed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. This law further expands the scope of the Anabolic Steroid Control Act to include all prohormone and prosteroid supplements (excluding DHEA, estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids). Here is the DEA testimony on the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. The second big change with the new law is that under the old law, in order for a compound to qualify as an anabolic steroid, the Attorney General was required to prove that the compound had anabolic properties. Under the new law, the Attorney General must only establish that the compound is chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone.
Other potential sources of steroids are Medical doctors, pharmacists, trainers, coaches with many contacts made at local gyms and by fellow athletes. Another important point to consider is that in Mexico or other foreign countries there is no Food and Drug Administration to monitor the quality of drugs. Therefore, those steroids made in these countries may not be what they say they are. One may never know what is in them.
Slang for steroids include: roids, juice, sauce, slop, product and vitamins (Berkowitz, 1989).
Most users simply do not think the potential side effects will happen to them. Author Dr. Bob Goldman cited a survey in which he asked 198 world class athletes if they would take a magic drug that would guarantee victory in any competition but would kill them five years after they took it. 103 of those athletes said yes! (Goldman, 1984)
The other issue is self esteem. One may think of steroid use in men like anorexia nervousa in women. A women with anorexia nervousa looks in the mirror and sees big and fat even if she is thin. A man taking steroids looks in the mirror and sees little and weak even if he is very muscular.
Cycling describes the use of steroids for certain specific time intervals. For example, taking the drugs for 12 weeks, stopping for 6 weeks, and starting again for 12 weeks.
Stacking refers to the use of multiple steroids at one time. Many users will take a combination of oral and injectable forms with the hope of enhancing the effects (Goldman, 1984).
Replacement therapy for those who do not produce enough testosterone naturally, certain cancers, certain anemias, malnutrition, "wasting" diseases like tuberculosis, and burn victims(NSCA, 1985). They are not used for treatment of sprained muscles and strained ligament!
During the 1988 Olympics $3 million was spent on drug testing. Testing is performed by taking a urine sample from the athlete and can be extremely accurate if performed by a qualified lab. However, labs do not test for every steroid taken - a new steroid may come out before labs begin testing for it (AACC, Inc., 1989). Some athletes try to beat the tests by taking diuretics (water pills) or a drug called probenicid, which decreases urine output. Both of these drugs can be detected and are banned by the IOC and NCAA.
There are some athletes who have access to labs. They take steroids and then test themselves to see how quickly the drugs leave their bodies. In this way they can determine when to stop taking a drug in order to test negative.
How long a drug remains in a person's system is quite variable. It depends on the method of use, the length of time taken, the size of the dose and the individual's clearing ability. Generally, the injectable types may remain detectable for 3-4 months while the oral types may remain for 1-4 weeks(AACC, Inc., 1989).
I hear this often. There are different types of steroids. What you are talking about is probably cortisone or a cortisone derivative like prednisone. These drugs decrease inflammation and are used for many conditions like arthritis. They have none of the muscle building or masculanizing effects of anabolic steroids. However, cortisone and its derivatives are not without there own serious side effects.
There are alternatives to steroid use - proper nutritional habits, proper weight and aerobic training and proper sports injury care. People need to know that you can achieve tremendous results with these methods. Most athletes have.
Prevention of steroid use is difficult. Obviously offering alternatives is one very effective way. Interdiction by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has helped. Education is important. Most important is an alteration of societal values; "the quickest way to the top" and "winning is everything" attitudes still prevail in athletics and society in general(Yesalis, 1993). We continue to reward athletes who perform at extraordinary levels yet we condemn athletes for using steroids and other drugs to reach these levels. These attitudes must change before significant progress can occur.
Growth hormone is naturally produced by the pituitary gland in humans. It is not a steroid. In children it is responsible for the growth of all tissues, organs, glands, bone, muscle, etc. In adults it is still secreted but in a much smaller amount. It is closely tied to the function of insulin, the hormone that pulls sugar from the blood (Greenspan, et al, 1983). Athletes like Lyle Alzado have taken growth hormone swith the hope of increasing muscle size and strength (Alzado, 1991). There are no scientific studies to show that growth hormone has any performance enhancing effects at all. All evidence is anecdotal (DiPasquale, 1984).
Growth hormone is available synthetically from several companies. Its medical uses are for replacement therapy in growth hormone difficient children. This is the only medical use (Goldman, 1992). There are no substances that one can take to elevate growth hormone "naturally" although many claims are made (Williams, 1989). Side effects may include changes seen in the disease Acromegaly (like Andre the Giant, and "Jaws" from the James Bond movies). This is a disease where the pituitary gland secretes too much growth hormone. The fingers, toes, facial bones, and skull become enlarged and the skin becomes coarse. Ones lifespan is shortened and the heart and kidney increase in size.
Until recently, there is no test available to detect usage in athletes (DiPasquale, 1984). However, for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, a test may be ready. This is one very dangerous drug and it is thankfully difficult to procure. There is a big black market out there but most of the supposed growth hormone is not the real thing. Who knows what you are getting?
Creatine or creatine monohydrate is a protein made from amino acids. Our body makes one gram each day from protein. We also eat about one gram of creatine each day from meats such as beef, chicken or fish (Hultman, 1995). Creatine has been taken as a supplement in the U.S. since 1992, the Russians and other Eastern Bloc countries have used it for more than 20 years. Athletes take creatine with the hope of getting stronger. Studies have shown positive results with minimal side effects(Volek, 1996). The American College of Sports Medicine hosted a roundtable discussion by several top scientists interested in creatine. They reported in their abstract that "there is no definitive evidence that creatine supplementation causes gastrointestinal, renal, and/or muscle cramping complications."
Andro or androstenedione is a steroid precursor. Steroid precursors are substances that may be converted in the body into steroids and may have both an anabolic and androgenic effect. There are dozens of these prohormones sold and the companies that manufacture them often make wild claims of their effectiveness. BE CAREFUL! These precursors are banned by all sports organizations and can cause side effects like those mentioned above.
No mandatory testing
Only time tested was for 2002 Olympics
Began testing in 1967
Began testing in 1986
Athletes are randomly tested at NCAA championship events and football bowl games. Banned substances include cocaine, amphetamines, ephedrine, anabolic steroids, diuretics, heroin, marijuana, peptide hormones and urine manipulators. Athletes who test positive for any banned substance are ruled ineligible by their schools for at least 365 days and lose one year of eligibility.
Varies by state, though most don't test. Nevada began testing boxers in 2002 for steroids. Urine samples are checked for 25 different steroids.
The Six Day bike race is born. Cyclists race continuously for 144 hours and turn to everything-caffeine elixirs, sugar cubes dipped in ether, nitroglycerine, alcohol, cocaine and strychnine-to keep themselves going.
The first recorded death was in 1886 when a cyclist, Linton, died from an overdose of trimethyl xanthine (more commonly known as caffeine).
The first near death in modern Olympics where a marathon runner, Thomas Hicks, was using a mixture of brandy and strychnine (white, odorless, bitter powder that used to be used to treat many human ailments - now used primarily as a pesticide to kill rats).
No specific date
Most drugs involved alcohol and strychnine. Heroin, caffeine and cocaine were also widely used until heroin and cocaine became available only on prescription.
International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) became the first International Sport Federation to ban the use of doping (use of stimulating substances).
Amphetamines were produced and quickly became the choice over strychnine.
The term "doping" is born.
Scientists synthesize testosterone and discover its anabolic effects.
The Soviet team used male hormones to increase power and strength and the Americans developed steroids as a response.
One of the first noticeable doping cases involving amphetamines which occurred at the Winter Olympics. Several speed skaters became ill and needed medical attention.
At the Olympics, Danish cyclist, Kurt Jensen, collapsed and died from an amphetamine overdose.
Pressure started to mount on the IOC. The Council of Europe set up a Committee on drugs but couldn't decide on a definition of doping.
There was a noticeable increase in the muscular appearance of the athletes at the Olympics and drug use was suspected.
Tests on professional Belgian cyclists reveal that 37% used amphetamines.
The IOC took action after the death of Tommy Simpson (due to the illegal taking of amphetamines) in the Tour de France.
The IOC decided on a definition of doping and developed a banned list of substances. Testing began at the Olympic games.
Five time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil tells Sports Illustrated that pressure to constantly ride faster means, "We are obliged to take stimulants."
Swedish doctor Bjorn Ekblom invents blood doping (removing blood from an athlete and then later reinjecting the red blood cells to boost the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity).
The IOC added anabolic steroids to its list of prohibited substances.
Belgian bike rider Michel Pollentier is discovered wearing a bladder of clean urine under his armpit. He is disqualified from his race.
US team officials administer blood transfusions to 8 of the US cycling teams 24 members. They later admit to blood doping, but the practice is not yet banned so they receive no penalties.
More than two dozen professional cyclists die mysteriously, their deaths later blamed on EPO.
At the Seoul Olympics, Ben Johnson tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid, was stripped of his gold medal and was suspended for two years.
Drug use had continued. Due to the significance of the problem, the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts began an inquiry into the use by Australian sportsmen and sportswomen of performance enhancing drugs and the role to be played by Commonwealth agencies.
An interim report of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts was published.
A second report of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts was published.
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) formed.
Late 1990s to eary 2000s
Many cyclists are found to be using prohibited substances and several deaths spark rumors of doping.
Copenhagen declaration signed. All major sporting federations and 73 governments approved a resolution accepting the World Anti-Doping Code as the basis for the fight against doping.
US has Congressional hearings involving all major sports.
WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON....
Gene therapy promises the holy grail
By Nick Morgan
A new gene therapy technique, which is more than twice as effective as steroids at boosting muscle, will soon be given the go-ahead for testing on humans. After that, doctors say, it is ''inevitable'' that athletes will try to use it to enhance their performance. The technique was developed by Professor Geoff Goldspink of the Royal Free Hospital in London to combat muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition that affects about 30,000 people in the UK. Professor Goldspink discovered that injected genetic material could increase production of a protein called mechano growth factor, or MGF, which boosts muscle mass and improves the muscle's ability to repair itself. By cloning the gene and injecting it into mice, Professor Goldspink recorded an increase in muscle strength of 25 per cent in three weeks. Given that steroids can manage, at best, a 10 per cent increase over 10 weeks, some doctors fear there will be considerable implications for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). ''In terms of performance enhancement and sport, it's the holy grail,'' Professor Goldspink said. He claims to have avoided the side-effects that have so far dogged gene therapy. In the past, genetic material designed to boost production of one type of cell has ended up boosting cancerous growths. This is why tests on humans have been slow in coming and why many have scoffed at the possibility of gene therapy affecting sport. Not any more though. Goldsmith says he is about to sign a multi-million dollar deal with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to start testing the technique on humans.
Professor Lee Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania is working on a similar project to help sufferers of muscular dystrophy. His group uses gene therapy to stimulate a different growth hormone called IGF-1 and he confirmed that a human trial is likely to begin in the United States within the year. ''Once you start testing on humans, you'll get rogue doctors in certain countries offering this thing for profit,'' he said. ''There's simply too much money to be made.'' Even more troubling for WADA is that, unlike steroids, injecting genes to stimulate MGF or IGF-1 may be undetectable. IGF-1 produced by injecting genetic material is indistinguishable from IGF-1 the body produces naturally through resistance training. The introduced genetic material is detectable but because it is confined to the muscle, testing would involve extracting an actual lump of muscle from every competitor. So, short of taking a pound of flesh, WADA must look elsewhere. ''WADA approached me about developing a test but I'm deeply sceptical,'' said Professor Sweeney. "You can only test for something if it's in the blood and my job is to make sure it doesn't get into the blood as this will carry it to areas it's not wanted. If we do our jobs properly, it'll be impossible to detect.'' What that means is that WADA are limited to looking for indirect effects. One of their latest research projects is a test for 'protein fingerprints' or abnormal patterns of protein that could only be caused by injected genetic material. ''We're looking for something out of the ordinary, like cells suddenly processing growth hormone when they shouldn't,'' said chief scientist Phil Teale. ''I'd envisage that within three years we could detect relevant patterns. But how quickly that translates into an actual testing methodology is hard to say.'' ''It's impossible to say whether we will have a fully working test in time for the 2008 Olympics,'' said Frederic Donve, WADA's media relations manager. ''We have commissioned five research projects but we can't say when they will produce results.''
A spokesman for UK Sport agreed that although they've ''identified gene doping as a priority'' they have no idea when such a test is likely to be operational. Some believe this is not a battle worth fighting. Andy Miah, author of Genetically Modified Athletes, argues that testing for genes would not only be futile but unethical. ''The impetus to find new methods of enhancement is not going to stop,'' said Miah. ''We need to draw a line under drug use and consider gene modification as a separate technology. It is a legitimate use of a technology that can improve humanity, not make it less human.'' Whether we try to test for gene doping or not, one subject on which all parties agree is that if athletes aren't using these techniques already they will be soon.
To see the American Academy of Pediatrics Position Statements:
For more information see the following sites:
Combating Anabolic Steroid Abuse
Anabolic Steroid Abuse
Anabolic Steroids: Office of National Drug Control Policy
Anabolic Steroids: NCAA Drugs in Sports
National Athletic Trainer Association Position Statement on Steroids
World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Guide
Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise, Charles Yesalis
Beyond Training, Melvin Williams
Death in the Locker Room I and II, Dr. Bob Goldman
Drug Use and Detection in Amateur Sports, Mauro DiPasquale, MD
Drugs, Sports and Politics, Dr. Robert Voy
False Glory, Steve Courson
Alzado, L. (1991, July,8). I'm sick and I'm scared. Sports Illustrated. pp.20-27
American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Inc. A High School Coaches' Guide to Anabolic Steroids and Their Detection, July, 1989.
Berkowitz, S. The Steroid Epidemic: Part Iof II: The Washington Post, January 15, 1989.
Bosworth, B. The Boz. New York: Double Day, 1988
Buckley,W., Yesalis, C., Friedl, K., Anderson, W., Streit, A., & Wright, J., (1988). Estimated Prevalence of Anabolic Steroids use among male high school seniors. Journal of the American Medical Association, 260, 34431-3445.
Courson, S. False Glory. Stamford, CT: Longmeadow Press, 1991.
Demak, R. (1991, July) The sham is a sham. Sports Illustrated, p.8.
DiPasquale, M.: Drug Use and Detection in Amateur Sports: Warkworth, ON: M.G.D. Press, 1984
Federal Proceedings. 40:2612-2688, 1981.
Goldman, B.: Death in the Locker Room: South Bend, IN: Icarus Press, 1984.
Goldman, B.: Death in the Locker Room II: Chicago, IL: Elite Sports Medicine Publications, Inc., 1992
Greenspan, F. and Forsham, P. Basic and Clinical Endocrinology. Los Altos, CA: Lange Medical Publications, 1983.
Hultman, E. and Greenhaff, P. "Creatine Ingestion and Exercise Performance in Humans" Strength and Conditioning 17(4):14-15, 1995.
Lieber, J.: Steroids: A Problem of Huge Dimensions. Sports Illustrated, November 10, 1986.
National Strength and Conditioning Association. Position Paper on Anabolic Drug Use by Athletes, 1985
Volek, J. and Kraemer, W. "Creatine Supplementation: Its Effect on Human Muscular Performance and Body Composition" Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 10(3):200-210, 1996.
Voy, R. Drugs, Sports and Politics. Champaign, IL: Leisure Press.
Williams, M. Beyond Training. Champaign, IL: Leisure Press, 1989.
Yesalis, C., Ed. Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, 1993.
Copyright Steven M. Horwitz, D.C., 1989
I'm gonna put on my glasses, put on my cap,
I'm gonna don these duds to give you a rap,
What I'm here to talk about today,
Are drugs called Anabolic Steroids, Hay,
You better listen and listen close,
These drugs can hurt you, and hurt you the most,
They come in shots, they come in pills,
What I'm here to talk about is all their ills,
Now I know they make you big and they make you strong,
But please do listen before you tell me I'm wrong,
Roids are naturally produced as a male hormone,
Put together in the testes called testosterone,
What athletes take is a synthetic kind,
Here are some of the names of this fools gold find,
Dianobol, Deca, Anadrol,
Primobolan, Equipose, Stanozolol,
Now take Ben Johnson, he sprinted for gold,
But he wasn't true to the Olympic mold,
He took those steroids which are drugs that are banned,
So the IOC said, "Ben, your gold medal is canned,"
Here are some of the facts which someday he must face,
As he returns to Canada and to the world in disgrace,
Roids can screw up your heart, cause sterility,
Fill your skin with zits and destroy your kidney,
They can cause liver tumors, you might even die,
Now that's a big price to pay for a fleeting athletic high,
Look at Lyle Alzado, he sucked them down,
And you know what happened to him...........
So please listen to my message,
And think before you act,
Because a little knowledge and thought
May save your life, now that's a fact!
From the Los Angeles Times
Doping isn't the only way to the top for athletes
It's a false claim that taking performance-enhancing drugs is simply 'the way it is,' Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses writes. He says a hard-core training regimen is the secret to his success.
By Edwin Moses
Special to The Times
June 12, 2007
Like the parabolic mirror that ignites the flame in Olympia every two years, the avenging spirit of sport recently has focused its heat upon yellow jerseys and ski boots. Now I want to add my own fire to the mix. Since May 23: Doping confessions on the part of Danish cycling champion Bjarne Riis. Telenovela-like EPO-related arbitration hearings of American cyclist Floyd Landis. The $1-million fine issued by the International Olympic Committee upon the Austrian Olympic Committee for its role in the 2006 Turin blood-doping scandal. Lifetime Olympic bans placed on 14 Austrian ski team officials. Cross-country skiers from Kazakhstan and Russia banned for two years. Three German Olympic doctors with responsibilities to amateur skiing, cycling and Paralympic teams suspended for providing EPO to athletes under their care. I could also mention last summer's saga wherein Marion Jones escaped with a negative B-sample and Justin Gatlin bit the dust. Or shall we go back to the 2004 World Track Championships, an annual meet from which other BALCO clients were subsequently banned? The roster of doping-associated stakeholders across the globe — not only athletes but federations, training institutes, coaches, corporate sponsors and national Olympic bodies — is a shameful who's who in the world of sports.
At the same time, Victor "BALCO" Conte is again open (legitimately?) for business — trumpeting this month to the Times of London that parents of kids with dreams of elite-level performance should "steer [the kids] in other directions" if they don't want them to take drugs, simply because "at some point they'll get to the level where they are told they have no choice but to use them." Pitifully, Conte's corrupt mentality is supported by entries on sports blogs, in which great performers of the past (myself included) are unjustifiably maligned by a skeptical generation of so-called fans ignorant of the plain feasibility and indisputable effectiveness of honest, hard-core training techniques.
With only 15 months to go before the Olympic torch comes to rest in Beijing, it's time for me and all other clean world-class athletes from every sport to speak loudly against the false claim that doping is simply "the way it is" and the only way to the top. To reach the pinnacle of my event, the 400-meter hurdles — and to stay there without ceding victory, as I did, for nearly a decade — I did not need or want to use performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, I trained smart and hard to get to and stay at the top. Over more than 10 years, I logged a minimum of 15,000 miles on the track, beaches and cross-country trails; followed a strict diet tailored to high performance and recovery (a regimen I follow to this day), and focused my complete attention on the task at hand, living and breathing the entire training process every single day. I invented a training regimen that included stretching, flexibility development and dynamic exercise techniques. And I was willing to deal with — for seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years — the intense and relentless discomfort that comes from training mercilessly, two or three times a day. Through sheer focus and willpower, I made sure that the harder and more painful it got, the faster I became.
By definition, the elite level of sport is not open to just anyone — only the very rare individual will succeed. But to suggest that drugs are a de facto key to world-class victories is a lie. I delivered 122 consecutive victories and four world records on the basis of sweat and refined skill, period. The sleazy brawn of doping degrades the noble ideals of sport and its true heroes: dedication, integrity, self-sacrifice, honesty, fairness, courage — all working together to fuel the desire and ability to compete, excel and win. Counsel to all would-be champions: in training for competition, there are no shortcuts. Anyone who tells you differently is selling pure compromise. Since 2000, I've served as chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy and the associated Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The core work of the academy is to use sport as a tool for positive social change, with a focus on the needs of the most disenfranchised and vulnerable children. The values of honest sportsmanship, a level playing field, clean competition and sheer passion for the game that Laureus represents, and that we hold up to these children and our own as flares of opportunity and hope, are the values that must propel me and others like me to speak out loudly against the systems and stakeholders that enable and sustain the crooked work of doping. In 1984, I was honored to open the L.A. Games by bearing the Olympic torch into the Coliseum and leading the recitation of the Olympic Oath, "in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and for the honor of our teams." If we now fail to take a stand for sport as we love it and once practiced it, our legacy will be scorched indeed.
-- Moses is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles. Parts of this letter were printed in the Times of London's May 21 edition.
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