Some History On Steroids In Sports

Steroids in Sports

Numerous vials of injectable anabolic steroids...

Numerous vials of injectable anabolic steroids, which have been listed as banned in the NFL banned substances policy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Since the beginning of sports, athletes have always tried to get a leg up in the competitions they were involved in.  Eating large amounts of meat to injecting man-made chemicals into their bodies are just some of the ways athletes’ level up their skills.  The reason why men and women push themselves almost or over the edge is for fame, fortune, or the pride of a country that they can potently have.  Some athletes due to long- term consumption and usage have suffered from serious injuries or even killed themselves by taking these performance enhancement drugs.  On contrary, other athletes would not be as far as they are today if it weren’t for steroids.  Steroids have been being used for many years, even though there are negative effects, competitors thrive on becoming the best; therefore, there is always going to be a problem due to the eagerness of becoming the best.

History shows from as far back as 480 B.C. athletes having been alternating their lifestyles to make them bigger, faster, and stronger.  For example one man for ten months ate nothing but meat before the Olympics; this shows how even before steroids, people were adjusting their lifestyles to be the best competitor. These strategies were a small price to pay for the prize that awaited them as they aged.  Even though most suspected that the Nazi’s used testosterone in the 1936 Olympics, the first known usage of steroids was at the 1954 World Weightlifting Championship.  This was acknowledged when the Soviets started to dominate in the lifting weight classes.

John Ziegler, an American scientist, suspected the USSR usage, so in turn invented the first anabolic steroid (Diannbol) in 1956.   Dianbol, however, wasn’t just a testosterone filled steroid, but in fact more complex and potentially harmful.  By the 1960’s Ziegler had gotten together his own personal group of lifters and they began to out lift the American lifters.  East Germany in the late 1960’s, had also joined the “steroid-arms race.”  They too quickly climbed the ladder, winning lifting competitions and other Olympic events, beating out some of the other weaker counties. As this race continued to grow other countries strived to invent a more powerful steroid.  With the steroid industry booming, complaints grew from the World Health Organization.  Nothing could be done to stop the production of this new phenomenon because the drugs were being produced by large pharmacies and then getting shipped to third world countries.  Jamaica and Kenya were the main counties where the large volumes of steroids were being shipped.   During these years Jamaica and Kenya were also performing very well in the Olympics.


By the 1970’s American athletes could support themselves by playing sports; therefore, a new binging for the usage of steroids erupted.   By this time the International Olympic Committee or IOC was fed up with the enhancements and banded steroids and other drugs permanently.  Many thought the termination of the drugs was for safety precaution; however, it was a morality issue. Many thought this ban would not work, but in 1972 they caught Rick De Mont, an American swimmer, using ephedrine.  This drug is prescribed to people with a severe asthma problem.  After evaluating DE Mont’s charts there was documentation of a asthma problems.  This proves how serious the IOC was about cracking down on unnecessary usage; however, they were wrong and reinstated he metals and records.  With the Olympics having a policy on drugs the National Football League enforced an anti-steroid policy.  Many professional sports leagues followed and placed policies on their players as well. Major League Baseball became the last league to enforce the new laws.  The MLB soon took action when they found a bottle of androstendione in Mark McGwire’s locker.  This issue was looked over by the MLB due to his home run records; however Congress took action.

Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that mimic natural sex hormones, androgens.   These drugs are produced to resemble the male hormone testosterone (Helmenstine).  Testosterone’s chemical makeup consists of a seventeen carbon center.  Anabolic steroids are known to aid in the growth of skeletal muscles.  The definition of anabolic is referred to as a tissue builder.  The testosterone in the drug increases amounts of red blood cells and calcium deposits in the bones; which in turn alters muscular enhancement.  Therefore, the combination of the anabolic and the testosterone create for skeletal muscles to increase in size in a quickly matter. This is the main reasoning for weight lifters and athletes to start the usage of anabolic steroids into their daily routines .

Testing is one way leagues try to control steroids and other drugs that athletes tend to illegally consume. The three main ways that league test are through urine, blood, and hair follicles.  Urine tests are the most common and can detect drugs that have been consumed within weeks.  Athletes are selected by an official and asked to sign an acknowledgement form prior to taking a test.    After being asked to participate in the test he or she will give a sample of urine, blood, or hair follicles.  They will then be notified as well as the league in which they practice in.  If the test has a positive reading the athlete has the opportunity to appeal the ruling.  After further investigating of positive test results officials will determine proper procedures and how to deal with the athlete.  IOC believes the strict rules have cut down on the number of positive test.  In the most recent summer Olympics the Chinese national team removed twenty-seven members before the testing had even begun.  The committee also keeps hold of the athletes’ samples for eight years, so if they do detect anything within that eight year period of time the athlete is then accounted for their actions.

There are many negative views on steroids and the use of them. Steroids are used to mimic the effect of the male testosterone .  Athletes use this to enhance their ability and follow the bigger, faster, stronger, motto. Though the drug creates a quick positive effect it can also have the reverse effect. Over time the usage of anabolic steroids can trigger premature balding.  High blood pressure is also very common when taking steroid cycles.  Acne can also be very predominate problem, especially on the back and chest area.  In males prostate tumors can occur as well as various other cancers.  Females also have side effects to steroids.   These issues include: hormone imbalance, facial hair, and menstrual complications and disorders. However, the major effects to both females and males are cancer formations, fluid retention, and liver failure; which can all in turn lead to an early death.  Although steroid usage is frowned upon there are some positive effects if they are taken responsibly.

Along with the negative effects of steroid consumption there are also many advantages.  One of the most common reasons to taking steroids is for a fast improvement of strength and body mass overall. If steroids are used properly they can help people with a prescription needs as well.  They can level out adult’s testosterone.   Also they can upstart a boy’s testosterone level if puberty is delayed.   They have even been prescribed to help AIDS patients whose bodies are wasting away.   Different forms of steroids are given out frequently by doctors whose patients have upper respiratory infections etc.  People tend to shy away from the good that steroids can bring because if used improperly there can be serious side effects and damages to one’s body.

Thus, there are many athletes that risk their reputation when taking illegal body enhancement drugs, steroids are illegal in IOC and in professional, and non-professional athletics.  Steroids can be dated back all the way to the before Christ time period.  The usages of steroids are and were used to create a more physically fit athlete.  The IOC and professional leagues have put a ban on the consumption. Many people have been tested for enhancement drugs and most of them test positive.  There are many concerns with the long- term effects of steroids.  When consuming them most people go about it in the wrong way, which in turn could cause them their life .   Steroids have many negative effects on the body such as cancer, acne, high blood pressure, liver damage, and over all organ failures.  However, many may argue the positive aspects of steroids.  They can be positive on the body when prescribed by a doctor and taken in a safe dosage.  Overall, the usage of steroids has been a problem for a long time in competitors.  America is a country that thrives on fast success; therefore, it can be predicted that even with negative effects steroids will always be an issue amongst athletes.

Resources: Steroids In Sports, History of Steroids, Steroid Pro’s,


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