The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

What are anabolic steroids?

May 24, 2022

Anabolic steroids are performance enhancers that are synthetic versions of testosterone, which is a hormone linked to facial hair, deepening of the voice, and, most importantly, muscle growth. 

These “advantages” do come at a high cost, however. 

“They are known to have a range of serious adverse effects on many organ systems, and in many cases, the damage is not reversible. They include fertility problems, impotence, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart and liver abnormalities. Boys may experience shrinkage of the testes or the development of breast tissue; girls may experience menstrual irregularities and the development of masculine qualities such as facial and body hair. Both may experience acne. Both boys and girls may also experience mood swings and aggressive behavior, which can impact the lives of those taking steroids and everyone around them,” said an FDA article on the issue of teenage steroid use. 

According to an article from MedlinePlus, steroids also pose a risk for addiction, despite the lack of a “high.” Some withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, and sleep problems. 

These adverse effects have made it clear to Carlmont coaches, such as head varsity baseball coach Ryan Hamilton that his players should stay far away from these anabolic steroids. 

“Speaking on anabolic steroids specifically, they have no place in high school sports due to the long-term negative effects on high school athletes. Male adolescents also have some of the highest levels of testosterone and human growth hormone circulating in their bodies during this time and would not benefit from anabolic steroid usage compared to an older athlete,” Hamilton said. 

If you take something like steroids and you add that into the equation you’re allowing somebody to enhance their athletic ability with less work and less time on the field.”

— Patrick Smith, Carlmont Athletic Director

The ethics of steroid usage have been made clear cut in the sports community. An article on bioethics from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University best demonstrates this idea. 

“Society cares because steroid use is a form of cheating. Since steroids work so well, they create an unfair advantage for those who take them, which breaks the social contract athletes have implicitly agreed to: We will have a fair contest. There are things we can and cannot do. Even if there were a safe performance-enhancing substance, if it weren’t available to everybody, using it would still be cheating,” said Michael Dillingham, the piece’s author. 

As a result of all these consequences, the sale and possession of unprescribed anabolic steroids are illegal in the United States. The following excerpt can be found on the Diversion Control Division website:

“The Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990 placed anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as of February 27, 1991. Under this legislation, anabolic steroids are defined as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth.

The possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a valid prescription is illegal.”

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