Last updated: November 27, 2023
Stories of women competing in professional sports testing positive for anabolic steroids have been sprinkled in the headlines throughout the year. One involved junior lightweight boxing champion, Alycia Baumgardner. She had metabolites in her system that identified two performance-enhancing drugs on her pre-fight drug test given on July 12th.
They were mesterolone and methenolone acetate, both of which she claimed to have never heard of before much less taken. The fight was on July 15th. Even though she was given two other drug tests, one on July 15th and the other on July 16th, and both came back negative, controversy now surrounds the final outcome.
Commonly abused steroids
Anabolic steroids are produced synthetically and are variants of testosterone, a naturally occurring male hormone. These synthetic variants promote muscle growth, enhance athletic ability, boost physical performance, and actually improve physical appearance.
Commonly abused steroids include the following:
Street names include Arnolds, Gear, Gym Candy, Pumpers, Roids, Juice, Stackers, and Weight Gainers.
These drugs are ingested orally, injected into a muscle, or applied topically to the skin. Go big or go broke seems to be the mentality of those who abuse anabolic steroids because abusers often take doses 10 to 100 times higher than those normally prescribed for treatment. It’s common for abusers to be taking two different steroids on an alternating cycle believing that it will increase the effectiveness yet minimize any adverse effects.
You can’t overdose on steroids, but
While abusing these drugs doesn’t carry the risk of death by overdose, they cause a wide range of adverse effects.
Factors on which these effects depend are:
- Type of anabolic steroid used
- Amount used
- Length of use
It’s estimated that approximately 3% of all high school students use anabolic steroids. Adolescents, who also abuse these drugs to enhance athletic performance, risk stunting their growth and may not reach their ultimate height. Adolescent girls and women who use steroids risk causing permanent changes to their bodies. They include deepening of the voice, increased facial and body hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, male pattern baldness, and lengthening of the clitoris.
Men suffer adverse effects from abusing these drugs as well. Using anabolic steroids may cause shrinkage of the testicles reduced sperm count, enlargement of the male breast tissue sterility, and increased risk of prostate cancer.
Both men and women may see an alarming rise in cholesterol levels. This increases the risk of coronary artery disease, strokes, and heart attacks. They may suffer outbreaks of acne and retain fluids as well.
The oral forms of these drugs are most likely to cause liver damage. Users may also develop endocarditis. It is a bacterial infection that causes a potentially fatal inflammation of the lining of the heart.
About mesterolone and methenolone acetate
Physicians prescribe mesterolone to treat low testosterone, hypogonadism oligozoospermia, and Leydig cell failure. It may eventually be used as a form of treating depression. Experiments are ongoing. However, it’s never been marketed for use in the United States.
Methenolone acetate is sold under the brand names Primobolan and Nibal. Taken by mouth, it’s mainly used in the treatment of anemia due to bone marrow failure. Widely used in the past, it’s only marketed for medical use in a few countries, such as Japan and Moldova. This drug was on the list of banned performance-enhancing drugs put out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 1989.
The fact that neither of these medications is legally available here in the United States may throw a huge wrench in Alycia Baumgardner’s claim that she’d never heard of these drugs before testing positive for them on a pre-fight drug test.
Black market steroids available
The use of anabolic steroids among athletes continues and they are obtained easily on the black market. Women, especially, those who feel put at a disadvantage by the fact that transgender women are being accepted onto the playing fields of women’s sports, may try to beef up their bodies in hopes of better competing against them.
Although there is no danger of overdosing, anabolic steroids are addictive. Inpatient rehab is a very effective way to treat someone who is heavily addicted to steroids. Inpatient rehab programs last anywhere from 28 to 90 days depending on severity.
Moreover, prolonged use is likely to bring on serious health risks that last throughout the user’s lifetime. Using these drugs isn’t in a woman’s best interest. Men, transgenders, and adolescents have no business using these types of drugs either—they’re dangerous.
Besides, competition is at its best when it’s the desire to win fueling the flame of a player—not performance-enhancing drugs.