Health

Steroids Running Through These Thick Veins

In every gym, athletic facility, and sports arena throughout the world there is at least one athlete probably partaking in a little well known activity called juicing. Because of the widespread use of steroids from the amateur bodybuilder to the professional baseball player, it is hard to imagine someone with incredible strength, speed and muscle tone achieving these feats by natural means. The answer is always “this guy’s on steroids.” The use of the word performance enhancers has become synonymous with the word athlete. Unfortunately not much is known about performance enhancing drugs, such as anabolic androgenic steroids, outside the weight room. I myself have never tried PED’s, but in all honesty the idea has crossed my mind once or twice. I am sure the thought of doping was considered by many other natural weightlifters and athletes from time to time. Despite being a banned substance in the U.S. and other countries, some people use them while others don’t. One of the biggest determents of using anabolic androgenic steroids is the health complications that are said to accompany the abuse of these doping agents. Out of the many, the health issues that seems to be well understood is cardiovascular disease and increase in psychological disorders. But if AAS are just synthetic forms of the naturally occurring male hormones then what is the big controversy surrounding them?

Anabolic Steroids Are Natural Steroids

All humans have natural forms of steroids called testosterone. In fact it is an endogenous anabolic steroid that is produced by the testicles of men and a small amount in the ovaries of women and adrenal glands. How often do you hear someone saying “I have to find a way to increase my levels of anabolic steroids” who are natural athletes. Not too often, if ever. Testosterone is a specific type of steroid classified under the androgen group. Androgens are all the different kind of steroid hormones that are designed to create and maintain masculine features. Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for anabolic muscle, bone and hair growth. I hope it is apparent why the synthetic form of the androgen group is called anabolic androgenic steroids. Testosterone happens to be one of the steroid hormones that the synthetic versions are derived from and greatly affects the performance of athletes. Do they work? Yes. This is why it has become rampant in the sports world. Legally AAS are classified as schedule 3 drugs based off of the concept that it has potential for abuse, may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence, and has accepted medical use.  Understand that synthetic and natural testosterone chemically act the same way in the body, yet if an athlete dopes in his or her respective sport it is considered cheating.

 

It is Cheating, Plain and Simple  

Most sports follow a policy of anti – doping rules because substances used to enhance performance are viewed as unethical and create unfair athletic advantages. But what exactly is unethical or an unfair advantage? Let’s imagine a pre – anabolic steroid world for the moment. What if one athlete knows of a natural compound that surges testosterone ridiculously and the other does not. Do we now blame knowledge? Natural or unnatural, enhancements are still enhancements that one competitor will take to have an advantage over the other. Regardless if the substance comes from a bottle or picked off a plant both can be used unfairly in competition. Do some enhancements work better than others? Absolutely. But let it be known that nothing comes without its price. Athletes are well aware of the health implications and risks of abusing AAS’s as compared to taking caffeine pills. Knowing what goes into the body and the way it works is elementary to athletes. What about being genetically gifted with the ability? Is it fair that a man that was not born with amazing abilities works harder and is still not as good? What about the new shoes that help you jump 30 feet in the air or the shirt that contains newer technology which reduces your temperature when exercising, is that not cheating? Furthermore, sports science and nutrition are two fields that are always trying to progress human physiology to find a way to create a bigger, faster, stronger athlete than ever before. Some training systems and nutritional theories have become obsolete because of more newer and advanced techniques and methods that showed better results on performance. Some can say that the ability to design a greater athlete than the generations previous is the result of evolution in sports. There is a very thin line between cheating and enhancement. However, the counter argument can be made that if an athlete is competing in an organization that has a list of banned substances then he or she must abide the rules. At this point there is a standard that is set. Since newer and more advanced substances are being created, it is becoming difficult to monitor and decide whether or not a certain drug ought to be allowed for use in competition.

 

The Plight of The Athlete

So where does that leave the athlete and the verdict on the use of anabolic steroids. Whether you can call it cheating, unnatural or unethical it is the person taking the substances assuming all the risks. Health, the ability to get caught and jeopardizing a career, legal issues and public opinion is all on the shoulders of the competitor using the banned drugs. Abuse of anabolic steroids, and recently other PEDs, has created an ever evolving athlete that the sports world has been dreaming to market and fans willing to naively worship. However, when a big star fails a drug test the fingers start pointing. Sponsors drop the accused despite all the money that was generated off their labor, the organization now has to take “action” when they are well aware of what is going on in the locker rooms, and the fans find someone else to idolize. The athlete has to make public appearances and apologize in front of the world for their “actions” to keep his or her job, yet the use of AAS and now other PEDs have almost become mandatory to have a chance competing in high level sports. Once when one man “cheats” all others have to follow just to be able to keep up. The years of sacrifice, hard training, mental conditioning, diet, and humility needed to get to an elite level is greatly overlooked when an athlete gets caught. Steroids is a very small piece of it.

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at freedigitalphotos.net

 

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John Machado

John Machado

John Machado is a co-founder/editor in chief of Bodyforward. He has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Stony Brook, ACSM certified with 15 years of experience with fitness and nutrition, and he aims to achieve his Master's degree in Nutrition.

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