Steroid Usage Among Athletes

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Steroid use among athletes is a phenomenon worldwide. In the sports world it is commonly known as “doping” or “performance enhancing drugs”. Steroids are generally made to help improve athletic performance, but they also have their use in the medical world as well. Scientist has discovered that they benefit patients with AIDS and cancer. Scientist also discovered that steroids “increased the red blood cell count in people who were suffering from anemia” (“Steroid History”, 2012). They are normally taken in either pill form or injections. Dosing is usually made in cycles of weeks or months, with a short break in-between. In today’s society steroid use is prevalent and is no longer restricted to body builders and professional athletes, it has trickled down to school and college-going children. In 2002 “Monitoring the Future” study revealed that “22 percent of 8th graders, 33.2 percent of 10th graders, and 46.1 percent of 12th graders said that it is ‘fairly easy’ for them to obtain steroids” (“Steroid Statistics, 2005). Steroid users can either be male or female and their ages range from 12 years of age or older.

The use of steroids has a rich history and if taken down to its bare skin and bones, it can be dated back to the original Olympic Games. They did not use what steroids are known for today, but they used pure testosterone, which all anabolic steroids owe their foundation. Early Olympic athletes would digest sheep testicles before a competition to have higher levels of testosterone. In 1849, the father of modern-endocrinology, Arnold Adolph Berthod of Germany, conducted an experiment that helped lead to the understanding of the importance of the male testicles. This experiment was the stepping stone to Adolf Butenandt purifying the hormone androstenone. Sometime later after Butenandt’s success a German chemist, Leopold Ruzicka, synthesized the hormone making it safe for human use. A snowball affect ensued, and in 1935 Ruzicka and Butenandt compounded the first batch of synthetic testosterone. In 1939, Butenandt and Ruzicka were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work in chemistry.

By the late 1930’s, the first injections of testosterone-propionate, a fast-acting steroid that dramatically effects the body and quickly promotes results in many areas, were administered to humans. In the 1940’s anabolic steroid use had become very common in the Soviet Union because of this the Soviet Union had become the dominating force in athletics. However, their dominance was short-lived because of Dr. Ziegler. He was the United States Olympic team physician, and he developed methandrostenolone, commonly known as Dianabol. “Ciba Pharmaceuticals was first to market the drug and by 1958 Dianabol was approved by the FDA for human use” (“Steroid”, 2012). With the combination of Dianabol and testosterone the age of performance enhancing in sports was born. The impact that steroids had on athletes was extraordinary, and many U.S. physicians began to implement their own studies. By the 1960’s, numerous new anabolic steroids had been synthesized. Research and development in Germany was at its peak, and through their research they had became the most dominating force in the sports world.

By 1967, anabolic steroid use had been banned from the Olympics by the International Olympic Council (IOC), and thereafter other major sports would follow. By 1972, the IOC began implementing a full-scale drug testing program for all athletes. The test was known as “Testosterone/Epitestosterone Test”, it would measure the levels of testosterone via blood or urine test. If testosterone levels in an athlete were found to be six times greater than the levels of epitestosterone levels the IOC would assume the athlete was using steroids. However, Germany was two-steps ahead of the IOC, they had created a testosterone therapy that could be used and cleared of the system in as little as three days. They also developed a synthetic...
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