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History and Impacts of Steroids and Drug Abuse in Sports

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A steroid is an organic compound with a molecular structure containing four rings of carbon atoms, but not all steroids are known for their muscle improving qualities. There are many kinds of steroids; for example, cholesterol is a steroid that is naturally produced by the human body used to make essential molecules such as hormones and mainly helps with digestion; and is composed of twenty-seven carbon atoms, forty-six hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Some other steroids produced by the body include: testosterone, estrogen, glucocorticoids, androgens, and progestins; and some anabolic steroids are: Methandrostenolone, Nandrolone, and Stanozolol. Testosterone is also an anabolic steroid that allows muscles and bones to grow naturally, and is composed of nineteen carbon atoms, twenty hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Estrogen regulates menstrual cycles in women, affects the reproductive tract, the heart, blood vessels, brain, development of breasts, hair, skin, and is the main steroid produced by the human female body; and it is composed of eighteen carbon atoms, twenty-four hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Glucocorticoids are a powerful anti-inflammatory steroid and they regulate the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline); and it is composed of twenty-five carbon atoms, twenty-six hydrogen atoms, four fluorine atoms, two nitrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Androgens in the female body are converted into estrogens; and there are composed of nineteen carbon atoms, twenty-eight hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Progestins are found on the female body and used to release the female eggs into the ovaries during ovulation; they are composed of twenty-one carbon atoms, thirty hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms.

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The steroids athletes mainly take to improve their physical performance include: Methandrostenolone is for performance and physique enhancing purposes; and its chemical composition is twenty carbon atoms, twenty-eight hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Nandrolone is used to treat anemia and osteoporosis; and it is composed of eighteen carbon atoms, twenty-six hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Stanozolol was used to treat angioedema- a problem causing swelling of the face, throat, and extremities- but it has been used by bodybuilders because it helps create strong muscles regardless of the size of the muscle. Its chemical composition is twenty-one carbon atoms, thirty-two hydrogen atoms, two nitrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms.

Not all steroids are bad, because steroids can be used to combat disease or to heal certain injuries; such as prescription corticosteroids used to reduce swelling and inflammation.  Doctors would use steroids to treat other conditions such as vasculitis, inflammation of the blood vessels; a condition that makes it hard for blood pumped through the heart and around the body. Another inflammatory condition is myositis, which is inflammation if the muscles; which causes muscle weakness. An example is if a patient tears a back muscle and a doctor might give them steroids to help heal that muscle to avoid doing surgery on the patient.

Some of the benefits of one steroid called Winstrol” include: muscle growth, an increase in muscular strength, and being able to heal quickly so the athlete does not have to wait a week, in some cases, to hit their maximum weight. An example of this is a professional weight lifter bench pressing three- hundred pounds, but with androgenic anabolic steroids, they might only have to wait three to four day until they feel like they can again go back into the gym and bench press three-hundred five pounds, or heavier. Other benefits include: a lean body appearance called “being cut”; some will not cause water retention; improves endurance; and increases power, speed, and ability.

In some cases, people on steroids usually look big and extremely muscular; but this “cut” appearance, gained by using Winstrol, allows the user to not worry about freakish big muscles getting in the way of an exercise that requires the full-range-of-motion of the joint to engage the muscles. Water retention is having the body keep unnecessary amounts of water inside to increase the person’s body size; and some bodybuilders do not want this to happen if they want to show off during a show. It also improves endurance when the bodybuilder is working out; so they can perform insane amounts of circuit training without feeling the effects of muscle fatigue. This steroid enhances the user’s speed, power, and ability which are all vital necessities during an athletic event; such as if the user is playing baseball, running an Ironman race or performing in other competitions.

Some drawbacks to anabolic steroids in men include: early baldness, shrunken testicles, infertility, impotence, prostate gland enlargement, and more; some side effects in women include: deepening voice, an enlarged clitoris, baldness, frequent or absent periods, and an increase in body hair. Some other side effects that effect both men and women include: hypertension, severe acne, a decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), heart and circulatory problems, aggressive behavior, depression, a drug dependence, growth problems among teens, and many more side effects to any anabolic steroid.

Those are most of the physical effects of steroids; although there are also psychological effects from taking steroids on top of the physical effects. The psychological effects include: mood swings, aggression also known as “roid rage,” fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, feeling paranoid, impaired judgement, delusions, decrease in serotonin, no effect on dopamine, and steroid cravings- just as an alcoholic craves alcohol.

Mood swings are a negative side effect because the person’s mood can abruptly change from being happy or calm about something to then being frustrated and then extremely angry over nothing in an instant. Aggression also known as “roid rage” is a side effect because the person will always be angry at everyone and everything, even as they are working out in the gym. The person on anabolic steroids can feel fatigue if they are not working out because they think working out is the only thing that can stop them from feeling fatigue. Restlessness is when the person is either bored or anxious about something and people on steroids are restless because they cannot wait to get back to the gym. Insomnia is when the person has trouble sleeping at night and this could happen to steroid users because they might have frightening nightmares and night terrors because of using steroids.

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Now here is some of the history behind steroids, during the 1930s, a team of scientists collaborated to synthetically create the male hormone testosterone to help a patient. This patient was not creating enough testosterone for normal growth and development. After that, during World War II steroids were given to soldiers to help them gain weight and continue to fight in the war. However, during the 1965 Olympics, Soviet athletes were caught using the synthetic steroid testosterone. After that news broke out, an American physician Dr. Zeigler created another form of anabolic steroids which was used for the US. Since then, steroid use has increased; and, just as in other athletic events, during the International Olympics of 1975 steroids were finally banned from being used in the Olympics. Congress passed the Steroid Enforcement Act during 1990, which no longer allows individual states to be in control of how steroids are regulated. That means that if any coaches, players, and other people who try to persuade performing athletes to take steroids are caught they would be committing a federal offense. However, if the Olympic athletes are caught using illegal anabolic steroids not only will they be looked at as also committing a federal offense; but they will be banned from that years Olympics. On top of that, if an Olympic athlete wins a medal, but is caught using illegal steroids, they will have their medal revoked, along with getting publicly humiliated. Even though the use of steroids is illegal in the Olympics, athletes and their coaches still persist on finding different ways of cheating a drug test and having people sneak steroids into the Olympics: one way is to replace the urine of an athlete accused of using steroids with a different sample and another way is to have a “state- sponsored” organization be in on helping a certain team get away with cheating. So, as long as The International Olympics will be held, ever four years, their will be more athletes and organizations trying to cheat with steroids.

One country in particular, that was hosting the Olympics, was Sochi Russia that was caught using steroids and was publicly humiliated in 2014. The way they were able to use steroids so easily was because it was entirely state-sponsored. Russia had a laboratory next to the Olympic stadium where Russian athletes were cheating by swapping urine samples with “clean samples”. This resulted in Russia’s entire “committee” of athletes being in on their heist to cheat their way to victory during the Olympics.

For most anabolic steroids, they start yielding visible results of muscle growth within five to ten days. Even though it might seem like people should only take steroids once to gain the “cut look”, then just go back to working out as they did before; that is not usually the case. Since steroids will continually repair torn muscles, people do not want to stop taking them, because they are able to push themselves to their limit more often then without the steroids. Another reason why most people continue to take steroids it because they love the instant increase in muscle mass, regardless of the side effects. Even though steroids work in such a short time frame they are still no substitute for working out, having to put in the effort, and having to “do the work”.

Some steroids that are injected straight into the blood vessels which work well within the five to ten-day period; because they travel through the circulatory system. From the circulatory system the steroid goes straight into the muscle cell; and the steroid travels everywhere else in the circulatory system which means that the harmful side effects start appearing within the same time frame of five to ten days. Although the side effects, such as increased acne, start to develop gradually; within two to three weeks they will become very visible.


  • Mark Williams. 2018. How Long Does It Take to See That Anabolic Steroids Work For You? Main Gain Source.


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