Steroids in Sports

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and many professional sports leagues (e.g. Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League) have banned the use of steroids by athletes both because of their potentially dangerous side effects and because they give the user an unfair competitive advantage. The IOC and professional sports leagues use urine testing to detect steroid use both in and out of competition.

Steroid Abuse in Sports

While the use of steroids by athletes is relatively new, the use of performance enhancing drugs dates as far back to the original Olympic Games when these ancient athletes ingested sheep’s testicles, which they knew to be a source of testosterone. Although that practice might seem extreme, it actually had less of a physical impact than the side effects associated with the current use of steroids.

Modern day testosterone was first synthesized in the 1930s and was introduced into the sporting arena in the ‘40s and ‘50s. One of the first athletic events that recognized the variance in athletic performance was the 1952 Olympics. The Russian weight lifting team received numerous medals for their performance and openly admitted to using synthetic testosterone. There was no penalty for the use of testosterone because there were no Olympic regulations in place that addressed this issue.

As a result, several other countries initiated programs in an attempt to win more gold medals. In fact, the East Germans began a statewide doping program and, for the next 20 years, they dominated virtually every major worldwide sporting event.

When a U.S. pharmaceutical firm developed anabolic steroids in 1958, they did realize the drug had unwanted side effects but by then it already had spread into the sports world. The drug was mainly used by:

  • Bodybuilders
  • Weight lifters
  • Football players
  • Discus, shot put, javelin throwers
  • Other competitors who relied heavily on bulk and strength

During the ‘60s and ‘70s, demand grew as athletes in other sports sought the competitive edge that anabolic steroids seemed to provide. By the ‘80s, non athletes also discovered the body-enhancing properties of steroids. It was then that a significant black market began to flourish for the illegal production and sale of the drugs.

Even though the IOC banned steroids in 1975, by that point steroids had become a staple of virtually every gym in the country, and they were here to stay. Even when the media increased awareness of the side effects of steroid abuse, this information did not deter athletes then and appears to have little impact today.

Even with the Olympic ban, steroid use continued and by the ’90s, knowledge of steroids abuse had penetrated nearly every possible professional and amateur sport. In 1987 the National Football League introduced its first anti-steroid policy.

Steroid Abuse in Young Athletes

Steroid abuse crosses all age, race, gender and class and is increasing in use in high schools and even middle schools. When surveyed, students stated that the most common reason for steroid abuse in sports is the desire to excel. These drugs are often perceived as a necessary step toward college scholarships and progression towards the professional ranks.

Get Help for Steroid Abuse

If you or someone you know has experienced steroid abuse, addiction or overdose, please know there is help. Call our toll free number today.  We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about steroid abuse treatment.  We are here to help.