In sports such as athletics, the drive to win coupled with intense competition pushes many athletes to seek out performance-enhancing drugs. It is no wonder that the use of performance-enhancing substances is very popular in such tournaments. An example of such a drug is the anabolic steroid. This piece seeks to provide an overview of what anabolic steroids are, who uses them and why.
What are anabolic steroids?
An anabolic steroid is a synthetically produced version of the male hormone testosterone. The proper name for this class of compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). The term anabolism refers to building up tissue; preferably muscle tissue while androgenic refers to promoting male sex characteristics. Anabolic steroids go by many names (slang) such as Arnolds, trainers, pumpers, and stackers.
A brief history of AAS
The very first AAS were synthesized in the early 1930s and their popularity has grown dramatically since then. It began with the isolation of gonadal steroids back in 1931 in a chemist in Marburg to the subsequent synthesis in 1934 by Leopold Ruzicka. A few years later, clinical trials were conducted on humans to determine the effect of the steroids. Initially, they were meant to act as a form of therapeutic medicine to treat various forms of ailments. However, it was soon discovered that these testosterone derivatives could be used to boost stamina and aggression in males hence their popularity among weightlifters and bodybuilders.
Since their discovery in the 1930s, testosterone derivatives have been used by physicians for numerous purposes, often with varying degrees of success. The anabolic is a common therapy that stimulates bone marrow growth for persons with kidney failure and leukemia. AAS is also used by pediatricians to treat children with stunted growth. They are also used to prevent bone loss, stimulate lean body mass and to improve low libido, particularly among old men. AAS is also administered to persons with chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS to tackle the wasting of body tissue.
Common users of the AAS
Apart from the medical field, AAS prevalence is also high among men and women who participate in different kinds of sporting activities. Such sports many include bodybuilding, cycling, baseball, cricket, football, weightlifting, wrestling, and MMA as well most track and field events. Usage among males is generally higher than that in females. Anabolic steroids have also found their way into educational institutions where it is estimated that 2.7% of high school students have used them.
Are anabolic steroids legal?
AAS use if prescribed and monitored by a physician is considered legal. However, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sporting events does not bode well with many governing bodies. In fact, sporting bodies refer to the use of such drugs as doping. As a result, the use of AAS is banned in all sports.