Anabolic steroids (AS) are a group of synthetic hormones, usually derived from testosterone. They are consumed as they aid in protein synthesis, muscle mass, strength, appetite and bone growth.
Steroids used in sports are usually anabolic in nature. Ideally, AS are drugs that closely resemble androgenic hormones and are synthetically derived from the male hormones called the testosterone. The widespread use of anabolic steroids among athletes is precisely to achieve strength, weight gain, speed, endurance against pain and fatigue, and aggressiveness. They are most commonly used by athletes involved in track and field sports, particularly the throwing events, weight lifting, football and baseball. Despite their prolific usage by the sports fraternity, the research literature still reveals debate on whether anabolic steroids can really enhance one’s performance or not. However, almost all athletes who have administered these substances have affirmed to the benefits caused by these. In fact many athletes have also asserted that they would not have been as successful without consuming them.
Some common steroids employed by the sports fraternity include:
Androstenedione or (Andro)
Androstenedione, popularly known as Andro is a supplement made from a naturally occurring steroid hormone. It is a designer steroid frequently mentioned in context with athletes and about its effectiveness in improving one’s physical performance.
Primobolan can be administered in the body by either injecting it or consuming it in a tablet form. This steroid is highly popular among athletes because it builds muscle power without adding to its bulk. Also this steroid does not have many negative side effects like other ones and hence remains high in demand.
Tetrahydrogestrinone is another steroid whose chemical structure is similar to other ones. Its specialty lies in the way it is manufactured which ensures that it is not detected in the doping tests. The FDA has banned the use of THG among the athletes, saying that it is not a supplement but an unapproved drug.
Clenbuterol or Clen as it is popularly called is a selective beta-2 antagonist and a bronchodilator which is also medically prescribed for obstructive pulmonary diseases at times. Amongst athletes, it basic function lies in increasing lean muscle mass but it should be administered only in small qualities.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a steroid prohormone which is naturally produced by the adrenal glands. After its synthesis the body converts the DHEA into both male and female sex hormones i.e. estrogen and testosterone respectively. DHEA are extremely popular because they are considered to be anti-aging supplements. However research on its this very property is still going on.
DHEA supplements were taken off the shelves of U.S. markets in 1985 and were made available only by prescription then. However, in 1994, it was reintroduced as a nutritional supplement after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed.
Though not all anabolic steroids pose as a threat to the athletes, some of them have been banned by a few sport’s organization which include the Olympics, NBA, NHL and NFL.
However, a few other steroids which find popular use among the athletes include oral ones like Anadrol (oxymetholone), Oxandrin (oxandrolone), Dianabol (methandrostenolone) and Winstrol (stanozolol). The injectable steroids include Deca-Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate), Durabolin (nandrolone phenpropionate), Depo-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate) and Equipoise (boldenone undecylenate).
If taken in prescribed quantities, anabolic steroids can never cause harm to the human body. However, those who consume large doses of these might experience certain changes, particularly in the sexual characteristics or the ones regulated by the male hormone called the testosterone as they are derivatives of it only. Some effects of steroids intake that might come to surface among men include, infertility, breast development, shrinking of the testicles, le-pattern baldness and acne and cysts. Effects among women include deeper voice, enlargement of the clitoris, excessive growth of body hair and male-pattern baldness. Some other hazards of anabolic steroid abuse include delayed growth in adolescents, tendon rupture, increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol ,high blood pressure,heart attacks, trembling, Swelling of feet or ankles, bad breath, difficulty or pain in urinating and enlarged prostrate, enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle and fluid retention.
Steroids consumed by athletes can indeed cause some withdrawal symptoms when they quit such as mood swings, depression, fatigue and irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia and aggression. Although controlled studies on the long-term usage of anabolic steroids have not been conducted very regularly, extensive research on prescribed doses for medical use has documented the potential that the side effects of these steroids , even when taken in small doses.
At the same time, it would be wrong to club anabolic steroid in the same category as other banned substances, like cocaine or heroin. This is because anabolic steroids also have good medical value for many patients in dire need of recovery from serious ailments.