Do anabolic steroids make you a better athlete? - Scientific American
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. 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.
The names have not been publicly released and none of the players were penalized. But the League imposed random drug testing and sanctions in after 5 percent of the players tested positive for outlawed substances. His runs-batted-in RBI statistics and total games played also peaked. Even so, his batting average has dipped over his career, from. In — 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 and 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.
Hoffman, who has a PhD in exercise science, used steroids during his football days in the early s, and he recently met Rodriguez. I had heard rumors from coaches in the League that he had used them.
I was very impressed when I met him in 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 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.
What are the short-term benefits of taking these steroids? 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. A batting average is more indicative of performance ability such as hand-eye coordination.
The key benefit with anabolic steroids is that they can help you be consistent over an entire baseball season. If you take a look at good power hitters in April and May early in the baseball season that runs from April to September, excluding the playoffs , their numbers are going to be pretty good. Take the New York Mets: If that team was on anabolic steroids the way they were in , they probably would have made the playoffs the past two years instead of running out of gas late in the season.
It makes a big difference when having that little extra. Now a guy like A-Rod — he trains really hard. With the steroids, he is maximizing his potential. Would he be a great player without them? Would he be as consistent? The answer to that is probably no. What are the side effects of taking steroids? In addition, you may get elevations in blood pressure and in your lipid fat profile — your cholesterol goes up, for example. Over time, the testicles begin to shrink, because the body is no longer producing its own testosterone.
But in some ways, taking steroids is like a second puberty — there is increased hair growth and aggressive behavior. In particular, women who take steroids can get hirsutism, an abnormal growth of body hair, and develop beards. If you look at Barry Bonds, his very noticeable change in head size is actually due to human growth hormone, which is not a steroid and has different mechanisms in the body. How long do the side effects of steroids last? All of those side effects are reversible within four weeks of cessation, though women tend to stay masculinized after using steroids.
And every athlete who has considered juicing taking steroids knows that. Athletes generally go on a steroid-taking cycle for six to eight weeks, and then they come off for about two months before going back on. The athletes who run into major health issues are body builders or wrestlers who get paid based on their external appearance. Like a person who considers himself or herself fat all the time, body builders and wrestlers look in the mirror and see themselves as being small.
Those are the athletes who never come off the cycle. Are there other health risks from taking steroids? Steroids could be lethal to someone with an underlying mental or cardiovascular disease.
Anabolic steroids are like any other medication. If you have hypertension and your doctor prescribes you a certain medication, such as an ACE inhibitor, there may be contraindications for using that particular medication if you have, say, kidney disease.
If an athlete is suffering from a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder — which many steroid-taking high school athletes who commit suicide allegedly suffer from — anabolic steroids are the wrong performance-enhancing drug to use. But when given in a clinical setting, steroids are relatively safe. How are steroids used in a clinical setting? By themselves, steroids are a very effective clinical tool for treating muscle-wasting diseases such as cancer, AIDS , and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders.
Cortisol is a catabolic steroid produced by the adrenal glands above the kidneys and it breaks down lean tissue in the absence of carbohydrates needed for energy. Through high-intensity training over the course of a baseball season, testosterone levels go down and cortisol levels go up. The athlete becomes testosterone-depleted, or hypogonadal, and fatigue sets in. We do that with men over 50 who have a normal decline in testosterone, though not with the super-pharmacological doses that many athletes use.
I think we need to look at this more scientifically. Rodriguez has won two MVPs since he stopped juicing. Can athletes keep the gains in muscle mass without continuing steroids? But can you keep gains three years later?
So the big question people may be asking is if Alex is taking something else. The benefit of the doubt for him, however, has now gone out the window. What the people who are involved in [professional sports drug] testing realize is that most athletes in that community are a few years ahead of the drug testing laboratories. Now is Alex on the cutting edge?
What was your own experience with taking steroids? I started using anabolic steroids my senior year of college in at St. Johns in Queens, N. I wanted the opportunity to play professional football, and I thought I needed to do something to compete with the athletes coming out of Division I the top collegiate athletic tier. For me, it was important to be as big as possible. It was my dream. And I was very fortunate to be the first athlete from St.
Then in I signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles. I used steroids for those three years, from to At the time, steroids were not illegal. I had a prescription for them and bought them at a pharmacy, just like any other medication. Team physicians were not involved, as far as I know, but they monitored our health. I had constant exams to make sure my liver enzymes were functioning properly and my heart was doing well, and that all the blood lipids were fine.
I did it in what you could say was the right way. I was doing it professionally. Did you experience any side effects? My last season, I took a powerful androgen and it was the first time that I really saw significant changes in my personality. And I felt at that point in my third training camp that those types of changes were not worth it to me, and I stopped using.
But the experience did spark a lifelong interest in why steroids are effective and also to take a look at alternatives. What do you think about alternative strength-promoting supplements? I knew exactly what I was putting into my body. I knew exactly why I was doing it and I knew the price I was willing to pay for that.