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Steroid: The Double Edged Sword

You love them, you hate them but you surely cannot ignore them. Steroids are one such thing which when used appropriately for the correct purpose can do wonders. And the exact same thing when abused can ruin all that you have and more.

Steroids are synthetic creations which were originally made to help get relief in certain medical conditions. The use of steroids is known to have helped in stressful diseases like

  • Respiratory conditions
  • In case of serious inflammations
  • Treatment procedure in osteoporosis
  • Anemia
  • Endometriosis
  • Breast cancer and many other such conditions.

The main feature of steroids is that they tend to enhance the development of muscles and tissues. They also help improve the endurance capacity of a person and help relax any inflammations or injuries.

Abuse of steroids:

It these very features that are often misused especially in case of sports persons, body builders etc. They often use these immediate benefits of steroids to achieve temporary goals. Body builders use and abuse steroids to see immediate effects and enhanced muscles, and achieve the body they dreamt of.

Similarly, athletes and sports persons also are known to have misused the benefits of steroids. They use steroids to enhance their performance and also to improve their endurance capacity.

When a sports person has taken some ‘performance enhancing steroids’ they naturally get an upper hand over clean participants. It is the steroids that assist them to enhance their performance and continue to endure more and more.

Sometimes the quest for victory reaches a point when, sports people tend to overlook the potential hazard these performance enhancing drugs could bring onto them.

An example of such a case would be the shameful controversy of the Russian Olympic team, who got tainted for not having come clean in the dope test.

The Doping test and the Russian Olympic Team

The 2010 Olympics ended with some rather shocking revelations. In their ambition to outshine all other countries, the authorities of the Russian sports ministry had been administering their Olympic team with ‘Performance enhancing drugs’. These drugs made the athletes feel faster and stronger. They had a sensation of being high on running while on the drugs.

The result was a thumping number of medals under the country’s credit. But the fame was short lived. No sooner did they earn the fame, did their team members come under the doping test attack.

When the team members were suspected to be performing way beyond what can be expected from a clean member, suspicions rose. And not surprising that the team failed the doping tests miserably.

Not having learnt, Russia continues with newer tricks

Not having learnt from their mistakes, the authorities of the Russian sports ministry went ahead and created a unique cocktail which included a unique combination of performance enhancing drugs and mention New about Russian Olympic Team using Steroids.

What was so special about this cocktail? A laboratory in Russia especially created this special cocktail which was a blend of alcohol and performance enhancing drugs. The combination of the drugs was such that, it would be hard to detect if the Olympic team came under yet another doping test scanner.

“The speciality of this cocktail was based on the logic that steroids dissolve better in alcohol than in water. And the players were to swish the drink in their mouth instead of drinking it conventionally” said one of the reports.

It was also reported, “The cocktail when swished in the mouth, promotes the absorption of the drugs through the buccal cavity, which has a shorter window of detectibility as compared to conventional drinking or injection”

This unique cocktail was named ‘Duchess’ after a popular drink of native Russia.

This attempt did seem to succeed until it was uncovered at International sports events, where the Russian Authorities could do little.

To allow the Russian Olympic team members to continue taking the ‘performance enhancing drugs’ the Russian authorities then came up with yet another tactic.

A member of the Anti-Doping team said, “The Russian Athletes were instructed by their authorities to collect ‘clean’ samples that they assumed to be beyond the wash out period of the Performance enhancing drugs that were being administered to them.”

“An insider from the Russian authorities on sly would collect these samples and swap them with the freezer stored samples at their end.” It was reported. Furthermore, the report says, “There is clear proof that the samples were removed from the secured area into a room adjacent where the Russian authorities swapped the samples.”

Despite many other tactics on their end, the Russian Olympics team members were uncovered. Hundreds of credible athletes who had the potential to perform well were stripped on their medals; many others also faced life bans. Not to mention the defamation and shame that came along with this.

This is one of the serious drawbacks of steroids; they tend to bring about addiction and dependency leading to hazardous after effects.

What kind of long term health hazards are faced by sports persons due misuse of steroids?

Apart from athletes being stripped off their medals, facing life bans and other defamation, another concern they have is of the damage these drugs do to them.

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While the performance enhanced sensations of steroids might last for the moment, the long term side-effects of these steroids will continue to haunt the athletes for a long time.

A report noted, “These drugs are known to break down the white matter in the brain. The affected people may experience varying effects but mood swings, aggression, low tolerance and depression are some of the common psychological side effects of anabolic drugs.”

Other physical side effects include, abnormal enlargement of organs like the heart, kidney, liver etc.

It is also known to cause testicular shrinkage in men, while the women experience shrinkage of breasts. Furthermore, the women go through balding, facial hair growth and a deep male like voice. Weight gain and water retention are also other side effects of these steroids.

Studies have revealed a direct impact on steroids on the cardiovascular system. Steroids make a person more prone to heart conditions that include heart attack, heart failure, enlarged heart and also high blood pressure.

The oral anabolic steroids like the ones Russians took are known to be heavily toxic for the liver.

And when the players eventually stop using these steroids a void is created and the body stops producing androgens naturally. This eventually leads to a low testosterone level and may also cause premature brain aging.

Thus while steroids are a boon for treatment of many health conditions, it can be a powerful destroyer when misused too.

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