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Steroids and Sports: How Common Is It?

Steve Shoup

It takes hard work and determination to be a successful athlete, you need to hone your craft and keep practicing constantly to improve your skill. But if you compare the athletes from 100 years ago with the ones today, you’re going to see major differences. Some athletes take shortcuts to save time and give themselves a competitive advantage. These shortcuts could be energy drinks or different dietary supplements, which could have harmful ingredients for your body. Older athletes might resort to plastic surgery to look young and keep competing with younger athletes. But the most commonly used shortcuts are performance enhancement drugs.  


Below you will see just how common steroids are among athletes.

What are Steroids?

You need to understand what steroids are exactly and what can they do to understand the appeal from an athlete’s perspective. Steroids are synthetic drugs that closely resemble Cortisol, a hormone that the adrenal glands produce naturally. But they are nothing like the natural hormone, these anabolic steroids are used to increase the muscle mass and strength of an athlete. Most of these drugs are illegal, but there are some supplements that could be prescribed and have less side effects. According to the people at TheGymLifestyle, “muscle building supplements hit a variety of areas and it’s down to you where you want to concentrate”. But most athletes just want to cut corners and get where they want to be through shortcuts, resulting in negative outcomes eventually, physically and mentally.

Pedal it out with Cycling

Believe it or not, Cycling athletes have the highest level of steroid findings in the Olympics. Many tend to deny it, but eventually there are confessions. One of the notable athletes known for this was Floyd Landis, an American cyclist who won the 2006 Tour de France after the second, third, fourth, and fifth place finishers from the year before were all disqualified for using performance enhancing drugs. But even though he won, he was suspected by many that he used steroids himself, he denied that fact in 2007 and in his words the accusations were “completely absurd”. But three years later, he admitted and came out clean saying he did use drugs and accused his teammate Lance Armstrong of using performance enhancers as well. Armstrong at the time responded and said “Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago”. Surprisingly three years later after that comment, Lance Armstrong himself admitted that he used banned substances such as erythropoietin, testosterone, and blood transfusions while winning seven Tour de France titles in a row from 1999 to 2005. Floyd Landis said very blunt comments about the sport, in his words “Professional cycling is organized crime”.

Home Runs in Baseball

Baseball is one of the most famous and adored sports, but sadly, it yielded one of the highest percentages of positive test results for steroids in both the Olympics and in the Major League. It was discontinued as an Olympic event after the 2008 Games. However, the steroid abuse in the game still continued even after it was eliminated. Major League Baseball was almost certainly worse than in the Olympics when it came to positive testing. They did not even have steroid testing at all but that all changed in 2004; the tests have been strengthened since then, and the situation appears to be improving relatively to the dark days of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The sport had a number of athletes that the league was seeking to suspend for steroid abuse. It was reported that 20 players were up for suspension, including famous stars like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. It seems even baseball athletes tend to take shortcuts.

Do you even lift?  

It’s not entirely unexpected that Weightlifting has a history of steroid abuse. Every year, the athletes are pressured to be better and lift more, to the point that the appeal of steroids was difficult to resist. In 2012, An Albanian weightlifter called Hysen Pulaku was the first athlete in the London Olympics to be caught using performance enhancing drugs in the sport. The responses from the athlete and his coach were very peculiar, his coach claimed that he and Pulaku were surprised and confused about the whole situation and did not know how the steroids ended up in the weightlifter’s body.


One of the most controversial cases in this sport happened in 2004 when three Turkish weightlifters accused former coach Mehmet Ustundag of sexual assault and forcing them to take steroids. Ustundag was still coaching Olympic gold medal winner Nurcan Taylan during that time when the accusations surfaced, she defended her coach and attacked the three accusers. She had very strong remarks afterwards saying “They have no culture, I am educated and cultured. I am physically more attractive than they are as well. I have gone down in history as the first Turkish woman to become an Olympic champion. They are jealous of my success as well as my beauty.” Very confident and sure of herself, there’s no way she can be involved in any steroids abuse right? Guess again. After the events of the scandal, Taylan was temporarily banned from the sport for four years because tests proved that she used steroids. Till this day, illegal performance enhancement drugs still plague the sport.

One punch at a time in Boxing

Boxing has been the cornerstone of sports for years. It has one of the highest rates of gambling and bets in any sport. This puts a lot of pressure on boxers and promoters, having that “winning at any cost” mentality. One famous Boxer, called Vitali Klitschko, admitted in his 2004 autobiography that he used steroids in 1996 and was taken off the Ukrainian team before the Atlanta Olympics. There was another famous boxing champion, Evander Holyfield, who was involved in a steroid case in 2007. U.S law enforcement officials uncovered a list of patients at an “anti-aging clinic” and it was believed to have names of people who illegally distributed steroids. They found a name similar to Evander Holyfield’s name, the name was “Evan Fields” and it had the same birthday, phone number and home address of the boxer. When reporters called the phone number listed for Fields, Shockingly Evander himself answered the phone. The champion boxer denied using steroids and still denies it to this day.

The Sport’s environment

Till this day, athletes still use steroids and would say that the drive to win is fierce. Other than the satisfaction of personal accomplishment, it’s always the dream of any athlete to win a medal for their country or to make a name for themselves by having a spot on a professional team. Sadly, the use of anabolic steroids has become increasingly common and considered to be the norm in that environment till this day. There are always new drugs that help them pass the drug tests undetected. Hopefully, the use of natural and legal supplements would be the common way among athletes and it would be beneficial for their health as well.



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