STEROIDS This single word brings to mind the scandal that overshadowed the 1988 Olympics, held in Seoul (Republic of Korea). The International Olympic Committee suspended, for the alleged use of this drug, several hopeful athletes. The fastest sprinter in the world in the 100 meters smooth enjoyed the glory of his gold medal, but for a short time. Controls carried out after the race revealed the use of steroids, so he lost his medal and his world record.
However, this should not have taken the world of sport by surprise. At the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary (Canada), one of the participants was disqualified for having tested positive for steroid control. It is said that knowing that there was going to be this type of control, half of the twenty-eight athletes who had to participate in the “strength” tests – weight, hammer, javelin and discus throwing – in the prestigious World Class athletics tournament, which was held in 1987 in Zurich (Switzerland), did not appear.
In 1983, in Caracas (Venezuela), fifteen athletes were excluded from the Pan American Games for steroid use. The 1984 Olympics also did not get rid of the shame of steroids, as several winners were dispossessed of their medals.
In almost all sports there has been some scandal related to steroid use: athletics, bodybuilding, weightlifting and American football, to name a few. More than twenty football players from different American universities were excluded from special games that are played after the season as a penalty for steroid use. A famous NFL veteran (an acronym for National Football League) who played fourteen seasons in professional football said: “On some teams, between 75 and 90% of players take steroids.” Psychology Today magazine commented: “Many of the […] interviewees say that 100% of those who participate in bodybuilding competitions take steroids.”
But the abuse of these drugs is not limited to professional and university athletes. Today a large amount of steroids is consumed among bodybuilders and athletes, both male and female, and even among youngsters who have not even reached adolescence.
Dr. William N. Taylor, a member of the United States Olympic Drug Control Program, warned that the use of these drugs has reached “epidemic proportions.” How far is this epidemic? Taylor mentioned that in addition to athletes, there are accountants, teachers, laborers and even police officers who abuse steroids. “It’s not a sports problem anymore,” he said, “it’s a social problem.” And these people are playing with dynamite. ”
Anabolic steroids are powerful synthetic varieties of testosterone (male sex hormone). For some years, they have been used clinically, and under careful supervision, as an aid to accelerate delayed puberty, develop muscles that have been affected by disease or surgery, and protect blood cells during radiation or chemotherapy sessions. For these and other physiological problems detected by medicine, steroids have been an effective tool in the hands of the medical profession.
In the 1950s, certain Russian doctors and scientists reasoned that if they gave athletes massive doses of the male hormone testosterone, they could increase muscle mass and body volume faster, and thus increase the performance of their athletes. Their goal was to empower them to run faster, jump higher, throw the disc and the javelin further, lift greater weights and excel in all strength tests. As a result, Russian athletes entered the world of international competitive sports with a clear advantage, excelling in most sports modalities of that time.
Then came the repulsive head of nationalism. An American doctor decided to balance the situation by obtaining the formula of a synthetic variety of anabolic steroid – a drug-related to testosterone – that was easier to produce and cheaper and had the option of being able to be taken in tablets or injectables. This formula turned out to be an impressive success. Now you could achieve, thanks to chemistry, increase body volume and improve sports performance. The sports war had begun.
There are also those who consume them for flattering their ego. “Developed muscles are in vogue,” said a spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration. Men want to wear good guys on the beach. Young people in higher education think that steroids can help them get a scholarship for their sports skills, enter the world of professional sports or conquer the girl of their dreams. ” The Wall Street Journal of October 4, 1988, reported: “Hundreds of thousands of American teenagers take anabolic steroids, either orally or in injectables, in order to play better or simply to improve their image.”
There is a lot of pressure
The sportsmen of the institutes that aspire to be stars of the world of the sport, their trainers and, possibly, their parents, know that a few kilograms more and a little more of musculature in the precise place can mean the difference between stardom and mediocrity. There are several things that place the aspirant to stardom under great pressure to outperform their competitors by using steroids: the prospect of getting huge salaries – amounts of six and up to seven figures (in US dollars) – that charge that become sports stars; the fame that institutes, universities and their coaches receive, and also the glory that this means for their parents.
Dr. Taylor wrote the following in the journal Psychology Today: “I have received dozens of phone calls from parents who want their children, of medium proportions, to be more developed. I have received offers of tens of thousands of dollars to chemically manipulate children. ” A leading expert in physical education says that high school athletes use steroids with the support of their father, mother, and coaches.
Those who take steroids admit that they produce results: they increase muscle mass, strength, and power as promised. A former professional wrestler said: “I took steroids by mouth, 15 milligrams a day. In thirty days I managed to go from lifting 143 kilograms in the weightlifting bench, to lifting 177 kilograms. Normally it takes six months to achieve that. ” Weightlifters say they can lift greater weights during longer training periods, and that after workouts they need much less time to recover.
Bodybuilding is causing a furor in other countries. For example: according to the Women’s Sports & Fitness magazine of August 1987, in China, the concept of being fit and shaping the body is “sweeping the country […]. Now you can find bodybuilding magazines in all major cities. ”
Far from China, in the German Democratic Republic, steroids play an important role in the lives of athletes. As an example, this quote from The Wall Street Journal is enough: “’ The steroids of East Germany are ranked as the best,” says a California lawyer. His athletes have the reputation of being better, more bulky and stronger. ”
What price is paid for the glory?
“People believe that the cocaine problem is serious,” said a renowned physiotherapist who works with athletes. It is not as large as anabolic steroids. Among young people, it has acquired epidemic proportions. ”Young people around the world are following the flow of steroids. They are involved in a dangerous game to enhance their physique, and they may pay dearly.
“It is always to be scared that paranoia, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur and violent tendencies occur, ” said Psychology Today. According to research being carried out at McLean Hospital in Belmont (Massachusetts), bodybuilders who take steroids may be prone to such psychotic and manic symptoms. ”
In the case of men, in addition to these side effects there are other dangers: atrophied testicles, exaggeratedly developed breasts —to the extent of requiring surgical intervention—, sterility and impotence. There is also a risk of liver tumors, kidney problems, stroke, heart disease and a personality change that can lead to violent behavior and suicidal tendencies.
In the case of women, the side effects of steroids can cause irreversible virilization: hair growth on the face and body, a more serious voice, a sensitive reduction in breast size and the disappearance of the menstrual cycle.
When one thinks of those who get carried away by the fury of being fit and use drugs to develop greater and better muscles, one should ask whether that “good form” is real or fiction. What happens to the musculature when the glory fades? Will these people look back to their young years, and will they conclude that they have paid a huge price for their stardom in sports or for their narcissistic vanity? The sensible young man must recognize that sacrificing his body for something as ephemeral as the glory and admiration of the people of this system of things is an effort that is not worth it.