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History of Anabolic Steroids in Sports

When were anabolic steroids discovered?

 
      Until 1935, no one knew that anabolic steroids were associated
 with the accumulation of muscle tissue.  In that year, two
 researchers experimenting on dogs discovered that testosterone
 given under certain conditions would increase muscle mass.(1,2) 
 Hitler may have given some of his troops anabolic steroids to
 increase their aggressiveness, although this is not well-
 documented.(3)  

      The current history of anabolic steroids as abusable drugs
 began in 1954 among Olympic weightlifters.(1,2,4) 
 In 1956, Dianabol (Methandrostenolone) was first marketed in the
 United States, clearing the way for the use of anabolics by U. S.
 athletes.(4)  At first, only world-class athletes in high-
 strength sports such as weight lifting abused anabolics.(5,6) 
 Among Olympic athletes, anabolic steroids were a problem as long
 ago as 1964.(6)  Athletes and their trainers developed high dose,
 multiple-drug regimens that were not based on scientific
 research.  These methods of use were passed by word of mouth from
 one training group to another.  Even today, the use of many types
 of steroids in high doses has never been examined in controlled
 scientific studies.(5)  

      Anabolic steroid abusers mistrust scientific opinions about
 high-dose steroid use.(7)  When it was first noticed as a
 growing problem, some scientists and public officials stated that
 there was no evidence that steroids caused muscle growth or
 improved performance, and that use of large amounts would lead to
 dramatic, toxic side effects in all users.  These pronouncements
 went against the common knowledge and experience of the athletes,
 who did not see large numbers of their steroid-using friends
 dropping dead.(6,8)  Scientific information sources were
 thus discredited among athletes.  

      As their reputation grew, anabolic abuse spread to other
 sports.  Today, the only Olympic sports in which anabolic steroids
 have not been detected are women's field hockey and figure
 skating.(1)

      Steroid abuse spread beyond the Olympics throughout the 1970's
 and 1980's.  In 1983, nineteen athletes were disqualified from the
 Olympics for steroid abuse.(9)  A 1970 survey of five
 American universities showed that 15% of college athletes were
 steroid abusers.(10,11)  By 1984, 20% of college athletes
 were using steroids.(11)  In 1975, anabolic abuse in Arizona
 high schools was 0.7% over all, with 4% of athletes admitting 
 steroid use.(10)  A 1986 survey in Minneapolis revealed a 3%
 average rate of steroid abuse in grades 8, 10, and 12.(10) 
 In one of these high schools, the rate of use was 8% in senior
 males.(10)  In a 1988 survey in a suburban Chicago school,
 6.5% of male students admitted taking steroids, and 2.5% of female
 students admitted steroid use.(12)  Surveys in 1989 estimate
 that there are 500,000 adolescent steroid abusers nationwide, and
 as many as 1 million steroid abusers of all ages in the United
 States.(6,10,13)  In November 1990, U. S. Federal Law
 reclassified all anabolic steroids as Controlled Dangerous
 Substances.(14)

        

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REFERENCES 1. Kleiner SM. Performance-enhancing aids in sport - health consequences and nutritional alternatives. J Amer Coll Nutr 1991 Apr;10(2):163-76. 2. Bergman R, Leach RE. The use and abuse of anabolic steroids in olympic - caliber athletes. Clin Orthopaed Rel Res 1985 Sep;198:169-72. 3. Pope HG, Katz DL. Homicide and near-homicide by anabolic steroid users. Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry 1990 Jan;51(1):28-31. 4. Windsor R, Dumitru D. Prevalence of anabolic steroid use by male and female adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exercise 1989 Oct;21(5):494-7. 5. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews 1988;9(2):181-99. 6. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989 Sep;8(3):129-38. 7. Ambre JJ. Medical and nonmedical uses of anabolic-androgenic steroids. J Am Med Assoc 1990 Dec 12;264(22):2923-7. 8. Knuth UA, Maniera H, Nieschlag E. Anabolic steroids and semen parameters in bodybuilders. Fertility And Sterility 1989 Dec;52(6):1041-7. 9. Wagner JC. Abuse of drugs used to enhance athletic performance. American Journal Of Hospital Pharmacy 1989 Oct;46:2059-67. 10. Buckley WE, Yesalis CE, Friedl KE, Anderson WA, Streit AL, Wright JE. Estimated prevalence of anabolic steroid use among male high school seniors. J Am Med Assoc 1988 Dec 16;260(23):3441-5. 11. Smith DA, Perry PJ. The efficacy of ergogenic agents in athletic competition. part 1: androgenic-anabolic steroids. Annals Pharmacother 1992 Apr;26:520-8. 12. Terney R, McLain LG. The use of anabolic steroids in high school students. American Journal Of Diseases Of Children 1990 Jan;144(1):99-103. 13. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic steroid addiction hypothesis. J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec 8;262(22):3166-70. 14. Brower KJ. Addictive potential of anabolic steroids. Psychiatric Annals 1992 Jan;22(1):30-4. by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph. (c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: Steroid use is illegal in a vast number of countries around the world. This is not without reason. Steroids should only be used when prescribed by your doctor and under close supervision. Steroid use is not to be taken lightly and we do not in any way endorse or approve of illegal drug use. The information is provided on the same basis as all the other information on this site, as informational/entertainment value.

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