How Common Are Steroids in Sports?

Doping or the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is banned in most competitive sports. However, every once in a while, we hear of professional athletes facing charges of doping. Needless to say, this is an indicator that the vice is still present in sports factions, but it is definitely done secretively.

This leads us to one of the most controversial questions of the century when it comes to sports. Just how common are steroids is sports? Many times, the answers to this question are very controversial. It can be said that it will depend on who you ask.

Ask any sportsperson, or anyone in the sports industry. The answer will most probably be that there is no doping and that if there is, it is very minimal. On the other hand, ask anyone who is not in the sports industry and they will tell you that doping is widespread in the sports industry.

Well, evidence points to doping being common in sports. Just that everyone is tight-lipped about it. But which steroids are the most common and why?

1. Testosterone
This is the most famous steroid among male athletes. While it is naturally present in our bodies, this amount is nowhere near enough to increase the performance of an athlete. Therefore, supplementing with synthetic testosterone has become a norm.
The main reason it is used is its muscle building properties. Therefore, for sports where brute strength and stamina is required, you are most likely to find a case or two of people who use it.

2. Nandrolone
This is another of the most commonly used steroids among athletes. Like testosterone, it also occurs naturally in the human body but in extremely small quantities. Structurally, it is quite similar to testosterone, and it also has many similar effects. This is most probably why it is loved by many.

3. Stanozolol
Also called Winstrol, stanozolol is synthetically derived from testosterone. One property that makes it a favourite among athletes is its effectiveness in increasing muscle mass and strength of its user. It can be taken orally or injected into the body.

4. Tetrahydrogestrinone
Also known as THG or “The Clear’, Tetrahydrogestrinone is famous with many athletes for its performance enhancing characteristics. Apart from this, it was designed so that it could not be detected in regular steroid tests, which earned it the name, ‘the designer steroid’.

Historical Doping Cases
Since the use of steroids became an issue in the 1960’s, there have been hundreds of doping cases in athletes that have resulted in lost careers and sentences for many. Here are some of the most prominent cases that caused quite a stir in the sports arena.

Marion Jones: One of the biggest doping cases of all times was that of the former American track champion and track athlete Marion Jones. After a series of denying doping allegations, she finally confessed to using THG, which saw her sentenced for six months and being stripped of her former medals.

Barry Bonds: Barry Bonds’ case spanned a period of 4 years and drew a lot of media attention. In the end, the baseball player was indicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, cases that he pleaded not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond.

Lance Armstrong: The 7-time winner of the Tour De France – one of the largest bicycling races in the world – was also faced with doping allegations. After a series of investigations, Armstrong is stripped of all Tour De France titles and is also banned from competing for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

These are just some cases that the world has witnessed in the past decade. However, this does not mean that there are no honest athletes. There are. Athletes who rely on performance enhancing drugs and steroids are just a fraction of the sports fraternity.

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