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    Anabolic Steroids and Sports: Winning at any Cost

    Anabolic Steroids

    Anabolic Steroids and Sports: Winning at any Cost

    "Anabolic Steroids and Sports: Winning at any Cost" is also available in Portable Document format (PDF, 693KB, 8pg.)

    Versión en español (PDF, 578KB, 8pg.)

    To excel in athletic competition is admirable. Most high school, college, amateur and professional athletes participate in sports for the opportunity to pit their abilities against those of their peers, and to experience the satisfaction that comes from playing to their potential.

    Others do so to satisfy a desire for recognition and fame. Unfortunately, that creates some atheletes who are determined to win at any cost. And, they may use that determination to justify the use of anabolic steroids, despite evidence that these drugs can inflict irreversible physical harm and have significant side effects.

    Anabolic steroids, commonly called "roids," juice, hype or pump, are powerful prescription drugs. They are controlled substances that people abuse in high doses to boost their athletic performance. Anabolic steroids are not the same as steroid medications, such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, that are legitimately used to treat asthma and inflammation of the skin or other parts of the body. Anabolic means body building tissue. Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone. However, steroids cannot improve an athlete's agility or skill. Many factors determine athletic ability, including genetics, body size, age, sex, diet and how hard the athlete trains.

    Anabolic steroids are a chemical derivative of testosterone, the "male sex hormone." Properly used, anabolic steroids can aid in the treatment of blood disorders, connective tissue disease, some cancers, intractable arthritis, some sexual dysfunctions and other serious illnesses. But, because of their potentially serious side effects, they must be prescribed and used only under close medical supervision. Under both federal and New York State Law, anabolic steroids may only be prescribed by an authorized prescriber after a face-to-face examination of a patient.

    The number of athletes who abuse anabolic steroids is unknown. Many athletic associations ban their use, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Olympics, so few athletes are willing to admit that they use these drugs. The NFL tests its athletes for illicit use. Players who test positive face suspension and, upon testing positive a second time, are expelled from the League. MLB players are tested once a year, and if they test positive they can be suspended for up to ten days. If a player tests positive after the first test, they can be suspended without pay for up to one year. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine condemn the use of anabolic steroids for enhancement of sports performance or body building.

    Why Some Athletes Abuse Anabolic Steroids

    Believing that anabolic steroids can improve competitiveness and performance, uninformed or misguided athletes, sometimes encouraged by coaches or parents, abuse these drugs to build lean muscle mass, promote aggressiveness, and increase body weight.

    Some athletes frequently take two or more anabolic steroids together, mixing oral and/or injectable types, and sometimes adding other drugs, such as stimulants, painkillers, or growth hormones. This is called "stacking." The athlete believes that different drugs will produce greater strength or muscle size than by using just one drug. What they don't know, or choose to ignore, is the damage to the body that abuse of these drugs can cause.

    Supplements

    Over the counter dietary supplements, such as creatine, should be used with caution. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles and improve strength without the side effects of steroids. Taken in small doses, nutritional supplements may not be harmful. Before taking any over-the-counter nutritional supplements or adding them to your regimen, talk with your doctor. When taken in large doses and combined with alcohol or aspirin, or when combined with stimulents such as caffeine or ephedrine, nutritional supplements may become dangerous.

    Creatine can cause short-term cramping and diarrhea. While less is known about long-term use, creatine has been linked to muscle injury and kidney problems.

    Creatine and other dietary supplements are gaining popularity. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles, and improve strength and stamina, without the side effects of steroids. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not held to the same strict standards as drugs. If abused, they can have harmful effects. Creatine and certain other dietary supplements are banned by the NFL, NCAA and the Olympics. New York State law bans the sale of dietary supplements containing the stimulent ephedra.

    The Dangers of Anabolic Steroid Abuse

    When improperly used, anabolic steroids can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease; liver damage and cancers; and, stroke and blood clots. Other side effects of steroids include: nausea and vomiting, increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, headaches, aching joints, muscle cramps, diarrhea, sleep problems and severe acne.

    While the total impact of anabolic steroid abuse is not known, health care providers have observed the following problems:

    Source : www.health.ny.gov

    Do anabolic steroids make you a better athlete?

    Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.

    HEALTH

    Do anabolic steroids make you a better athlete?

    A physiologist who himself used to use steroids on why Major League Baseball players--now including Yankee Alex Rodriguez--juice

    By Adam Hadhazy on February 11, 2009

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    With this weekend’s revelation that baseball superstar Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez had taken anabolic steroids, the furor over rampant doping in sports continues.

    A three-time Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez now joins a pantheon of modern baseball greats tarnished by allegations of steroid use, including homerun “king” Barry Bonds and pitching ace Roger Clemens. But unlike those players -- the latter of whom denied steroid abuse under oath at a congressional hearing last year -- Rodriguez fessed up on ESPN Monday night. He apologized, saying that he was “stupid” for having taken performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez says he has stayed clean while wearing the signature pinstriped uniform of the New York Yankees as the team's All-Star third baseman, now entering his sixth season.

    According to anonymous sources quoted by Sports Illustrated, Rodriguez allegedly tested positive for testosterone and the anabolic steroid primobolan. But the big league veteran told ESPN’s Peter Gammons that he’s not even sure what banned substances he used during the 2001 to 2003 seasons he spent with the Texas Rangers.

    Rodriguez’s name turned up on the list of 104 major league players tagged for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 during tests given to gauge the need for mandatory testing to curb use of banned substances. The names have not been publicly released and none of the players were penalized. But the League imposed random drug testing and sanctions in 2004 after 5 percent of the players tested positive for outlawed substances.

    During Rodriguez’s confessed era of doping, his homerun average jumped to a super-slugging 52 per season, compared with 36 during his first four seasons in the league and about 42 since. His runs-batted-in (RBI) statistics and total games played also peaked. Even so, his batting average has dipped over his career, from .315 to .305 during his steroid days to .303 over the past five seasons.

    In 2003 – reportedly his last year taking anabolic steroids – the League honored him as its MVP. Rodriguez has continued to play Hall of Fame-caliber baseball, and he won two more Most Valuable Players awards in 2005 and 2007.

    Anabolic steroids are not the same as prednisone prescribed by physicians for inflammatory and other disorders. Instead, anabolic steroids promote tissue growth, and, in particular, muscle generation – which is why they have become so popular in athletics.

    To learn more about the boosting effects of anabolic steroids as well as their potential health risks, ScientificAmerican.com interviewed Jay Hoffman, a professor of health and exercise science at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Hoffman, who has a PhD in exercise science, used steroids during his football days in the early 1980s, and he recently met Rodriguez.

    [An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

    Are you surprised by the news that Alex Rodriguez used steroids?

    Not at all. I had heard rumors from coaches in the League that he had used them.  What I don’t like is Alex coming off [in the ESPN interview] like he didn’t know what substances he took. I’m sure he knew exactly what he put in his body. I was very impressed when I met him in 2006 during a workout at Yankees Stadium, because he asked a lot of really good questions about training. I also admire his work ethic.

    Rodriguez allegedly used a steroid called primobolan. What is that drug and how does it work?

    It’s an anabolic steroid, also called an androgen, and it is a synthetic form of the male sex hormone testosterone. It increases muscle mass and strength, and also enhances recovery time after a workout. Primobolan is typically injected in the buttocks with a needle. You want to dissipate the steroid through some fatty tissue, because the steroid is fat soluble, and that way you also slow down the metabolism of it for a more sustained dose.

    How can you detect primobolan in the body?

    Using a urine test, you can take a look at the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in the body, which should be one-to-one in a normal male. If someone is taking exogenous (external) testosterone, the ratio will be skewed in favor of testosterone. Also, you can use chromatography, an elaborate lab technique (involving mixture separation) to detect the specific chemical fingerprint for primobolan.

    Rodriguez also supposedly tested positive for testosterone. What does that mean?

    The hormone is often used as another injectable steroid that together with primobolan dispenses androgenic metabolic properties. When most athletes take anabolic steroids, they use what’s called a “stacking dose,” where they take several steroids to exacerbate the substances’ effects.

    What are the short-term benefits of taking these steroids?

    You can have a relatively quick enhancement of muscle strength and size, even if you take steroids and don’t lift weights. But the biggest benefit from using anabolic steroids is that they allow an athlete to train harder and have a quicker recovery. An athlete trains on Monday, then he comes back Tuesday and can have just as good a workout through the end of the week. The workouts for most individuals get less intense as the week goes on because they haven’t recovered completely from their earlier workouts.

    Source : www.scientificamerican.com

    Performance

    Learn about the health risks of taking drugs to boost your athletic performance.

    Source : www.mayoclinic.org

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