• Anatomy Of Fitness

What are STEROIDS or PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS?

Updated: Nov 12

What are Anabolic Anderogenic STEROIDS or PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS? Why do ATHLETES use STEROIDS? What is the philosophy of using STEROIDS for increasing performance? What about the side effects of STEROIDS?

Very few people understand the philosophy of steroid usage and even lesser know about the rampant use of STEROIDS around us.

Most (if not all) athletes use STEROIDS.

Not many know that local athletes, film stars, models and even recreational sports enthusiasts use STEROIDS for increasing performance.

Athletes never accept STEROID usage.

Steroids and Athletes:

We have heard athletes saying they have never used STEROIDS or Performance Enhancing Drugs. Most athletes do not want to say anything about steroids. All they like talking about is the hard work they put in to reach the level they are at, their training, diet etc. No doubt, there is a lot of hard work, passion, obsession, exercise, nutrition etc. but one thing that very few athletes readily accept is that they use and abuse Performance Enhancing Drugs or Steroids for increasing performance.

Professional athletes are sports fanatics. They can go to any extends and use everything in their reach to qualify for or win the game. All competitive athletes play to win. No athlete competes to lose. The logic is simple, the one who wins becomes an icon, is endorsed by big brands, earns tons of money, and most importantly, there is immense pride. People start looking up to them.

Suddenly, there is an enormous responsibility of always keeping a few things secret and a few things open. Most (if not all) international athletes who are in competitive sports use and abuse Performance Enhancing Drugs or STEROIDS and this is an irrefutable fact of the sports industry.

Doping in sports is a very common practise.

Sports, like swimming, skiing, running, baseball etc. require immense power and the sporting community realised that this power, when increased to supraphysiological levels, would help in improving performance.

But, what about the side effects of steroids? Yes, everything has side effects if done/ taken in excess, even water, but to say that Steroids are safe and have no side effects would be, very unethical and misleading.

Almost all athletes take steroids but, very few accept taking it.

Superhuman Records:

If we check the graph, it is noticeable that today, athletes outperform athletes in the 60s and 80s. Why is it that every record is being broken? We would not be far from the day when we see a new record of a sprinter, sprinting a 100 meter in 5 seconds and then 4.5 seconds and then 4 seconds and so on. We are not attributing all the records only to Steroid use and abuse. Even if we are jacked up like a beast, nothing can bring about an increase in performance unless we train like a monster. Steroids will help us prepare better, run faster, carry more muscle, lift heavier etc. but we will have to work extremely hard to break any record.

Role of the male hormone - TESTOSTERONE:

Have we ever wondered why men are physically stronger than women? One of the reasons is because of the male hormone called TESTOSTERONE which is present in more significant quantities in males as compared to females. If we increase Testosterone to supraphysiological levels, we would physically perform better and probably surpass all our records.

Testosterone's link to STEROIDS:

Anabolic Adrogenic Steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone Testosterone.

Typically, these are intended to be used for the treatment of conditions like sexual dysfunction, low sperm count, erectile issues etc. These are to be sold only on a valid prescription of a registered medical practitioner. However, it can be easily obtained by people who know how to source it and where to source it from.

STEROIDS in Bodybuilding Vs. STEROIDS in Other Sports:

Athletes started using Anabolic Androgenic Steroids even before the scientific community proved steroid effectiveness. Some athletes were caught, most were not. It is a fallacy to think that only bodybuilders use Steroids. Steroid use in bodybuilding and powerlifting is more evident due to the superhuman physique. National and international level athletes attempt superhuman feats all the time, be it running, lifting, swimming etc. We see new superhuman records being set all the time. Why only target bodybuilders and powerlifters for Steroid use and abuse?

Do we think elite endurance athletes with a thin frame body, achieving superhuman records, are clean? There is something more than just diet, training, determination and genetics that makes them win.

Athletes take different Steroids for excelling at various sports.

For example, elite marathon runners, triathletes, cyclists etc. take Erythropoietin. Erythropoietin is a hormone that the kidneys secrete. It helps to increase the rate of production of red blood corpuscles. Taking Erythropoietin gives athletes an edge in performance by increasing their red blood corpuscles count in the blood. Uptake in the red blood corpuscles increases the oxygen-carrying capacity. Higher oxygen-carrying capacity means better performance. A side effect of this drug is an increase in the viscosity of blood. It may trigger a stroke or a heart attack.

It may be shocking to know that even bow & arrow players and chess players take steroids that help them concentrate, lower their heart rate and enhance focus. If we think that the governing bodies that regulate and organise such events are not aware of the rampant steroid use then, we are dead wrong. All of them know everything. Also, there is no cheating, as all the athletes are using it.

Athletes never accept that they take Performance Enhancing Drugs.

Side Effects of STEROIDS:

Partaking in the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs or STEROIDS is like playing with fire. There is a high chance we can set ourselves on fire. There are many side effects associated with the use of Steroids in both, men and women.

In men, the most common side effects are:

  1. Elevated Estrogen levels leading to Gynecomastia.

  2. High Dihydro-Testosterone levels leading to acne and hair fall.

  3. Erectile dysfunction and impotence.

  4. High liver stress from the consumption of oral Steroids etc.

In women, it may lead to:

  1. Deepening of the voice.

  2. Facial hair.

  3. Clitoral hypertrophy etc.

The SOCIAL SANCTION of STEROIDS:

Athletes are ready to do whatever it takes to win. They are so much determined to win that they can risk their lives for it. However, there is an immense social stigma attached to the use of Steroids for increasing performance.

Steroid use for increasing performance has not gained social sanction. Ironically, smoking and drinking have.

It is considered highly unethical to use Steroids for enhancing performance. Smoking and drinking are way more detrimental to health as compared to steroid use (not abuse) for an increase in performance. People who have conveniently accepted tobacco and alcohol as parts of their lives, raise eyebrows hearing about someone taking Steroids. People socially boycott and ostracise the unfortunate soul caught in Steroid use.

No steroid on earth will help us achieve anything unless we put in 110% of our efforts. But who cares about our struggles and compromises when we are caught using steroids? Heros become zeros. Careers are flushed down the drain in an instance. Athletes can go to any extends to win. All they care about is winning at any cost. They are ready to risk their lives.

Who is to be blamed for STEROID use & abuse?

We all are to be blamed for the rampant Steroid use and abuse. We demand the records be broken. We want to see athletes run faster. We want to witness athletes lift heavier. We want to see an increase in performance. We want to look at superhumans. We all love this. We will continue enjoying this.

There is a big industry with a lot of stakeholders, making tons of money. As steroid science progresses, we will have a lot of genetic freaks taking advantage of this science to set new benchmarks, to set new records and break the old ones. The ones that do not get caught will never be labelled as cheaters as they have somehow managed to cheat the system.

Key takeaways:

  1. Most (if not all) athletes use Steroids and very few accept using it.

  2. All Steroids have side-effects.

  3. The governing bodies are completely aware of the rampant steroid use and abuse by athletes.

  4. It will take some time for Steroids to gain social sanction.

  5. Steroid science is progressing with each day.

  6. Doping in sports is a fairly common practise.

Now we understand what Steroids are, why do athletes take them and the philosophy of using Steroids for increasing performance.

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