No matter what sport you participate in, the idea of taking steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug is a big no-no. While for some the use of steroids may be what gets them to their competing standard in the first place, for others, it may be what allows them to bulk up (and cut down) long term.
The trouble is, anabolic steroids were made illegal some time ago. Many were first created with the intention of treating medical conditions – not for aiding sportsmen and bodybuilders. But of course, that hasn’t stopped the use of anabolic steroids by men looking to gain a shed load of muscle, pretty quickly.
Nevertheless, the debate on steroids aside, many of us still want to know when did steroids become illegal. Were they ever allowed in sport? Are they illegal the world over? Or are steroids legal in US? When were steroids banned?
We’re here to tell you everything you need to know.
A rocky relationship with steroids
Although many of us are aware of what steroids do, not so many know about their origin. Anabolic steroids can actually be traced back to Germany in 1931, when chemist Adolf Butenandt worked out a way to purify and isolate the hormone androsterone.
It was later improved and synthesized for human use. However, it wasn’t until later on (in the 1930s) were the first injections of testosterone given to humans.
If we fast-forward to 1958, methandrostenolone was developed even further – soon becoming known as Dianabol. That rings a bell, doesn’t it? Well, good ol’ Dbol was first marketed in 1958, having been approved by the FDA.
Well clued up on famous bodybuilders? The first known users of Dianabol were Bob Hoffman and three well-known lifters, John Grimek, Jim Park and Yaz Kuzahara. While these incredible athletes showed a huge amount of muscle mass and strength gains, in 1960, these dangerous new steroids caused their first death in sporting circles – with Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen dying during competition.
Shortly after, as you can imagine, the media began to take greater notice of anabolic steroids in sport. In 1968, compulsory drug tests were brought into the Olympics – meanwhile, the use of steroids had become pretty common in sports such as American football and baseball.
If you’re still wondering ‘are steroids legal in US?’ you’ll be quickly put off using them by their side effects alone – before even questioning when were steroids banned and why.
The embarrassment of illegal steroids
When anabolic steroids first surfaced, everyone and their neighbor were interested in using them. The thought of gaining a huge amount of muscle, strength and stamina was just too tempting for potential users.
Later on, professional athletes were left humiliated when it was discovered they were using these types of performance-enhancing drugs – especially when they were stripped of their medals. Despite being widely used, being found out to be using anabolics was a whole new thing.
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Steroids in the ‘70s – When were steroids made illegal?
Although 1972 saw a huge amount of drug tests being carried out, that certainly didn’t stop their use. Come 1981, discus thrower Ben Plucknett tested positive for anabolic steroids, losing his world record title – as well as being disqualified by the International Association of Athletic Federations for steroid use.
Yep, that didn’t stop others, either. In 1983, a surprise drug test caused a dozen athletes to withdraw from the Pan Am Games in Venezuela. With little explanation, plenty of American athletes return to the US. In short, it was a little… Suspicious.
Skip to 1988, Canadian Ben Johnson won the 100m at the Seoul Olympics, becoming the first Canadian since 1928 to win the 100m. His success didn’t last too long, though, as his medal was taken away just three days later due to a positive test for anabolic steroid stanozolol.
When did anabolic steroids become illegal?
After many athletes were disqualified and stripped of their medals, in 1972, the IOC went all out on a mission to drug test for narcotics. During this time, seven athletes were disqualified.
But it wasn’t until three years later that anabolic steroids were added to the IOC’s list of banned substances.
By the mid-1980s, the concern for these dangerous drugs was on the rise. Despite their dangerous effects on their previous users – and their ability to lose professional athletes their titles – many still continued taking them. From 1988 to 1990, congressional hearings were held to determine whether the Controlled Substances Act (1970) should be amended to include anabolic steroids.
Why are steroids illegal in the US?
There are plenty of reasons why steroids have been deemed unsafe. Many athletes consider their use unfair, since steroid users have a performance advantage. But their use goes beyond unfairness since they have been found to be incredibly dangerous.
After two years of deliberations, Congress passed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, thereby criminalising possession of anabolic steroids without a valid prescription.
Although the side effects of anabolic steroids can vary from one guy to the next, their potential side effects are enough to equal them banned for human use – without a prescription anyway.
Since steroids are a synthetic substance (created to mimic testosterone), normal T levels contribute towards the development of secondary sexual features. As a result of this, it comes as no surprise that anabolic steroids may be appropriate to treat specific health conditions.
However, without the supervision of a medical professional, they can be extremely dangerous. Their ability to increase testosterone (therefore muscle mass), however, has been found to treat muscle-wasting diseases. In a medical setting, these drugs are far more controlled.
Steroid use can lead to a loss of control of aggression – frequently referred to as “roid rage”. Alongside this, other steroid side effects include:
- Gynecomastia (growth of male breast tissue, aka, man boobs)
- Hair loss
- Horrific acne
- Liver damage (and the development of liver tumors)
- High blood pressure which may lead to heart attack or stroke
While many assume anabolic steroids have been banned based solely on their competitive advantage – that is certainly not the case. There has been a huge amount of concern regarding these types of steroids for some time, leading to their inclusion on the schedules of controlled substances.
So, if you’re wondering why are steroids illegal in the US, you should have your answer by now: They’re unsafe.
When did steroids become illegal – Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004
Since the 1990s, more amendments have been made to steroid laws in the US, such as the 2004 Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, which added prohormones to the list of controlled substances.
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More recently in 2014, the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act expanded its list of anabolic steroids regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to include about two dozen new substances.
Hopefully, by now, we’ve answered some of the most pressing questions, including:
- Why are steroids illegal in the us?
- When did anabolic steroids become illegal?
- Are steroids legal in us?
Dangerous anabolic steroids have been illegal for some time, and for good reason. They are no longer seen as just a performance advantage for athletes, but a dangerous (and unfair) addition to sporting events.
In line with these findings, many steroids were first developed for human consumption within a medical setting – which makes their use in bodybuilding circles even more… Debatable.
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By now, we’re all pretty clued up on the reasons why steroids are illegal and unsafe. But that doesn’t mean your gains have to suffer – nor your ability to compete.
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