Anabolic steroids also are known as anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are a group of hormonal drugs, synthetically prepared derivatives of testosterone, which is a male sex hormone responsible for male sexual characteristics. Testosterone develops secondary male characteristics such as deepening & hoarseness of voice, a growth of facial & bodily hair, etc. They are prescription drugs used in the treatment of hypogonadism, delayed puberty, malnutrition among adolescent boys and osteoporosis & other hormonal issues among females, strictly under medical supervision.
Anabolic steroids were first put to non-medical use among the Nazi troops of Germany in 1930s, to increase aggressiveness in them during the World War I. The German team were also found to bag the maximum medals in the following Olympics event held in 1936, in their own hometown. Later, however, these drugs had found their way into every sporting event as a result of their benefits of imparting increased bone mass & gaining lean muscle mass among athletes. These drugs, when had by athletes during the course of their training period, enhanced their on-field performance and boosted their self-confidence of bagging the gold medal in major events conducted on a worldwide level. It also enabled them to pump up muscle mass and gain lean body mass, without increasing or decreasing the fat mass in the body.
Modes Of Administration
AAS come in various forms based on the way they are introduced within the body for muscle building or medical purposes. They are as follows:
- Oral Route
They are available in form as pills or capsules, the most active forms of anabolic steroids since they are available in pure, unesterified form which gets easily absorbed in the bloodstream and play their hormonal role in the body immediately. 4 – 48 hours is the half-life of oral anabolic steroids.
Examples of AAS tablets: Oxandrolone, Oxymetholone, Stanozolol, Methandrostenolone, Mesterolone, Methenolone.
- Transdermal Route
The transdermal route consists of skin patches, gels or creams which are intended to be absorbed through the skin. They are also called topical steroids. They are testosterone in form of topical applicants & are similar to those available in the injectable form of testosterone.
Examples of Transdermal testosterone: AndroGel, Androderm.
- Intramuscular Route
They are available in water based or oil based solutions as injectable forms which are to be injected either in thighs, buttocks or shoulder areas. The oil or water in these solutions help to gradually release the steroids into the bloodstream, so there is sustained release & slow effect of the hormones. These injectable solutions are esterified, so their half-life is around 24 hours to 15 days as compared to the oral ones.
Examples of AAS Injectibles: Nandrolone decanoate, nandrolone phenpropionate, testosterone cypionate, testosterone propionate.
Their Uses As Ergogenic Aids
AAS provides an array of benefits among athletes rather than mere bodybuilding. Hence, they may be tempted to go overboard with their use. However, if they are combined with proper, rigorous training regime as well as a healthy diet, they can provide an edge in the performance among others. AAS serve the following benefits for sportspersons :
- They reduce fatigue & enables one to train for long hours without tiring since they decrease the formation of lactic acid in the muscles, one of the main reasons responsible for fatigue.
- They also contain hormones which provide better recovery from injuries during training.
- Increases strength & endurance levels among both males & females.
All said & done, they can serve best in our efforts to perform better when they are taken with under due supervision of medical professionals, in the dosage as suggested for the time period, without increasing the dosage whimsically.
Abuse of AAS in Sports
The high expectations of the audience & the athletes’ temptation to perform something much spectacular which has never been achieved so far, may result in the incorrect use of these drugs.
The widespread & unrestricted use of AAS has been raising quite a concern among the sports fraternity to put a tab on their use. Their abuse among the athletes was first brought to light in the early 1980’s in Olympics, where nearly 10 athletes were handed life ban for the alleged abuse of these drugs.
When the use of these drugs goes overboard, it becomes an addiction. AAS addiction is a serious issue which plagues several people ranging from professional athletes to novice teenagers in sports. Some with a distorted body image use them, which can be dangerous since they may do so without proper guidance.
Teenagers ingesting AAS on a routine basis may experience withdrawal symptoms when they go off these drugs, without tapering them off. Psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability on trivial issues, maniac attacks, unnecessary aggression & violence, delusions & fatigue are quite common.