Steroids in Athletes

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Steroids in Athletes

Athletics have always brought out the competitive side of people; in today’s society the will to win has been taken to a new level, to the point where athletes are using legal and illegal drugs to enhance their power and stamina. There are a number of drugs that can help enhance your performance but in this paper I will focus on anabolic androgen steroids, which are a derivation of testosterone (Yesalis xxiv). But many of the negative results that occur because of the use of steroids are similar to those of other drugs. The number of positive steroid test at Olympic events appears to be falling; the high level of anabolic steroids usage by bodybuilders and weightlifters and by teens is still shockingly high. Therefore I will be concentrating on the use and effects of steroids on bodybuilders and weightlifters.

An Athlete’s definition of heath includes a number of qualities; the first is not being sick and the absence of injury. But the main and most important part of being healthy to them is being able to carry out a routine practice or a work out. Their quality of life is very similar to how they define health. The most important thing to athletes, those using drugs especially, is being muscular being the best at their sport, and being in the best shape possible. Wellness would be an athlete’s perception of their health. If their health is good then according to them their wellness is good. Such is the same for the opposite. Exercise on the other hand is an athletes training, which is done usually for a 1 1/ to hours, six days a week. Usually their work out is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

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Nutrition as you can imagine plays a very important role to an athlete’s performance. Most athletes follow the recommended low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet. The athlete also follows a different regimen during different periods of their schedule. For example nutrition for an athlete during training might include high carbohydrates (60-70% of total calorie intake), low fat, low protein content, low salt and minimal bulk foods and an adequate fluid availability.

The day before the event the athlete increases carbohydrate and fluid intake and foods high in fat, salt, bulks are avoided. The day of the event water and carbohydrates are the main source and electrolyte intake is usually avoided. The day after the event or right after the event the athlete must make sure to have enough fluids and carbohydrates to avoid dehydration and glycogen depletion. As you can tell that optimal nutrition is a basic training component necessary for the development and maintenance of top physical performance. “A good diet in itself cannot provide fitness or championship form, but a poor diet can ruin both. ”

Using drugs, any kind of drug, harms your body. The big problem with drug usage is you don’t see the negative affects right away, you only see the positive results. The results you see immediately are positive ones. There is an increase in tissue building, in muscle bulk and strength and decrease in body fat. The long-term results are not so glamorous.

There have been cases of mortality as well as death from cancer. Clotting abnormalities can also be produced by some androgens as well as musculoskeletal injuries. The list goes on and on from increased facial hair growth and acne to heart disease and effects on the nervous system development and functioning.

The main reason for someone to take steroids is to increase strength and performance, but ironically it decreases performance in a way. Steroid use is usually accompanied by tendon injury and damage, which can ruin an athlete’s training. Steroid intake causes the body to make abnormal collagen, a white gelatinous substance that forms the tendon fibers. Steroids reduce the tensile strength of new collagen until much of the tendon is weakened. This type of injury takes at least three weeks for the muscle to heal-which is too long to not train.

Anabolic steroids not only affect the athlete physically but also mentally, socially and there family life. Personality changes include an increase sense of well-being and energy. But on the other side of the spectrum there is an increase of aggression, sexuality, unpredictability and irritability. This combination usually leads to divorce in a married situation, and in an unmarried or in any situation rape has a higher occurrence as well as physical abuse as a result of an uncontrollable temper. With long time use there has been cases were the users had “sub threshold” or equivocal psychotic symptoms and there were reports of the users having manic episodes.

Some athletes have become so dependent on their appearance and the pumped feeling from the steroids that they get depressed, can’t sleep, can’t eat right, and can even become suicidal due to the psychological withdraw symptoms.

There are no real negative affects on the athlete’s nutrition and fitness level, since the athlete’s main concern is to be in top shape. There is however one downfall with nutrition habits anyway. Many athletes think that since protein helps build muscle and strength, the more protein they intake the more muscle they will gain. This theory however is wrong and can greatly harm their health. As Colgan states that no additional protein is needed for an athlete. The recommended daily allowance of .75 grams of protein per kilogram bodyweight for sedentary folk-otherwise about 15-0% of daily calorie intake- is enough protein for any athlete. Too much protein can cause a number of problems like dehydration, renal disease, gall bladder disease and hypercholesterolemia.

There are many health risks if the athlete continues to live a life doing drugs, specify anabolic steroids. The following are the major or most common side effects that can get worst the longer you continue on the drug.

To help an athlete be physically in top shape without using drugs there are a number of things that can be done. An athlete on drugs main objective is to perform and train without use of drugs and to reduce the amount of protein intake. The following are goals to help obtain your objective.

1) One of the most important things to realize is that it takes time to get results;

you will not see immediate results. It also takes at least three months for the body to get use to the training and for the metabolism to be affected.

) When weight training you should not work out a body part at a time but a body

system, for example Shoulders, chest and upper back Arms and shoulders

Chest, back and legs It is also recommended that you do a four set routine First set warm up of maximum strength for 1-15 reps. Second maximum for 6-8 reps. Third maximum for 4-6 reps Fourth flushes system with maximum weight for 0 reps. Each exercise should be done once a week, allowing muscles to recover, and each training session should be no longer then an hour and a half .

As time progresses weight and reps should be increased. Put a measurement on your workout look at the rate at which your goals are begin met, or if being met at all.

) Nutrition wise there are certain foods that should generally be avoided even if you are not training.

a) Saturated foods have no advantages and should be avoided, although it is

impossible to avoid them entirely.

b) Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid is essential for athletes.

c) The lower the percent of fat intake the better, Colgan recommends to 15% of

fat intake.

d) Essential fatty acids should also be included in the diet, for example walnuts,

soybeans and pumpkin seeds.

e) Protein intake does not have to be increased but if the athlete wants to eat a little more then usual it is ok as long as they avoid bad protein, beefsteak, bacon, butter, pork, loin. Good protein should be eaten even if protein intake is normal. An example of good protein is egg whites, grilled chicken, flounder (grill or dry), shrimp (steamed) and tuna in water.

Obviously for an athlete not use to eating a healthy diet it is going to be impossible to change their diet all at once. So as the weeks go on their diet should look more like the above goals. This should be measured not by the amount of calorie intake but by the amount of good, nutritious food eaten.

Steroids are unfortunately used widely across the nation and world, in many sports by all kinds of athletes. The only way athletes will realize that there are other things that can be done to increase their performance without drugs is if they are taught the way to train and eat right to befit their training. I think Colgan put it best when he said “Drugs work, no doubt about it. But optimum nutrition, works equally as well and has no downsides, neither for health nor for the human spirit.”


Alan, G (188). The Anabolic Steroids and Peptide Hormones. In David R. Mott ram (ed.), Drugs in Sport (pp17-18). London E & FN Spon.

Bahrke, M. (1). Psychological Effects of Endogenous Testosterone and Anabolic Androgenic Steroids. In Charles E. Yesalis (ed), Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise (pp 16-178). Illinois Human Kineties Publishers.

Colgan, Dr Michael, (1). Optimum Sports Nutrition Your Competitive Edge. New York Advanced Research Press.

Friedl, K (1). Effects of Anabolic Steroids on Physical Health. In Charles E. Yesalis (ed), Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise (pp 16-178). Illinois Human Kineties Publishers.

Hecker, A.(187). Nutrition and Physical Performance. In Richard H. Strauss (ed.), Drugs and Performance in Sports (pp-5). Philadelphia W.B. Saunders Company.

Wadler, G., & Haihline, B. (18). Drugs and the Athlete. Philadelphia F.A. Davis Company.

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