The history of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS or anabolics) goes back to the times of ancient “endocrinology”. It was over six thousand years ago when farmers, observing animals’ behavior after castration, noticed their improved domestication. Over time, doctors have been prescribing their patients AAS to treat different diseases in spite of their demonstrable side effects. Researchers have been interested in developing new anabolics and synthesizing their artificial form. Pharmacists have shown at least equal interest in these substances due to their increasing popularity. Regrettably, nowadays AAS are abused by athletes, bodybuilders, and teens. Read on to know more about the history of steroids.
The History of Anabolics in the XIX Century
In 1849, the scientist Arnold Berthold (1803—1861) made the initial step in studying the action of testosterone in animals. As a consequence, scientists began to look for ways to synthesize this hormone chemically.
The first concept of doping appeared in the English dictionary in 1889. It was then that the drugs increasing the endurance of racehorses began to be used. Approximately the same time, chemists attempted to create substances that improved athletic performance. Also in 1889, scientists observed the action of testosterone in the human body.
Athletes tried to cheat even before invention of anabolics. Thomas John Hicks took strychnine (a rodent poison) and some brandy to win the Olympic marathon in 1904. This crystalline alkaloid has some muscle-stimulating effect despite its pesticidal toxicity.
The History of Anabolic Medications in the XX Century
In 1935 the testosterone formula was finalized by the French scientist Ernst Laqueur. Simultaneously, Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt and Leopold Ružička perfected testosterone properties. They patented the technology and were awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry 1939 for their research achievements.
After that, the production of the first test drugs was established. However, there was one significant problem. The products had an oily base that was water indissoluble, and therefore it didn’t have the desired effect when taken orally. Over time, the formula underwent several improvements and injection medicines allowing for achieving better results started to be manufactured. The drugs were called “anabolic-androgenic”, as anabolic means “myotrophic, renotrophic”, and androgenic is “virilizing”.
There is evidence that soldiers of the Gitler’s Wehrmacht used steroids to increase aggressiveness and remorselessness, but these data were not reconfirmed. Scientists Marcel Reinold (University of Münster) and John Huberman (the University of Texas) dispelled this myth in 2014. They wrote that this myth is associated with ingrained imagination of the Nazi regime, perverseness of the Nazis, and fascination with Nazism that includes megalomania, which, in particular, is represented by sadism. AASs are known catalyzers of aggressiveness, so they have become an identifier of the Nazi ethos.
Anabolic steroids were first introduced in large sports in 1954 by Olympic weightlifters. An oral steroid pill called Dianabol (methandrostenolone) was a game changer in spreading steroids. This drug was created by the doctor of the American weightlifters’ team, Dr. John Ziegler, together with CIVA in 1956. This medicine achieved great popularity in weightlifting which spread to other sports. Bodybuilders also began to actively use it. Unfortunately, female athletes had not remained immune from Methane.
In the 1960s, most of the drugs sold today were already on the market. Untrammeled AAS abuse continued until mid sixties. During that period, athletes used steroid drugs in copious quantities and intricate combinations, often without consulting doctors at all. Prescriptions for anabolics were handed around. There were no adequate medical studies on the use of “juice”.
AASs were in great request among the Olympiad participants in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1974, the IOC officially included anabolic drugs into the general list of doping. At the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, several sportspersons were disqualified for using interdicted athletic medications. In addition, in the 1980’s, several newfangled anabolics appeared. In the America, the special lex adopted in 1990 placed anabolics into Schedule 3 of the Controlled Substances Act. The IOC and other sports organizations banned the use of steroids by athletes. In 2004, Congress enacted the AS Control Act of 2004, which prohibited OTC steroid precursor substances, elevated penalties for their production, distribution, or possessing, and allocated funds for preventative educative measures. Dura lex, sed lex.
Anabolic Steroids in Today’s Society
Nowadays AAS are extensively used by fitness “buffs”, bodybuilders, powerlifters, MMA artists, swimmers, and other athletes. These categories of people state that due to the performance improvement drugs they can enhance their physical indicators and as a result feel more competitive. Steroids allow them to increase muscle mass, aggressiveness, and strength. Moreover, thanks to these drugs, athletes have a shorter “reconstruction” time after workouts or injuries, which enables them to exercise nonstop, thus improving their endurance and overall performance. Another group of steroid users include people employed as body guards, law enforcement officers, and construction workers. In their case the drugs allow them to improve physical strength which is their job requirement. The third category of those who use steroids includes people willing to enhance their personal appearance by reducing body fat and increasing muscle size.
Some athletes do not trust research data concerning steroids’ effect on the body and continue to abuse anabolics, increasing doses. They are afraid to confide their secrets to doctors.
What About Corticosteroids?
According to the study by T. Benedek (2011), the first clinical trials aimed at researching the effect of animal adrenocortical extract on human adrenal disorder were conducted in 1930. In 1948 cortisone was used for the first time to treat a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. in 1950-51 its oral and intra-synovial administration began. 1952 saw successfully conducted research focused on producing corticosteroid called cortisone semi-synthetically. In the period between 1954 and 1958 there were introduced 6 synthetic steroids to be used in systemic anti-inflammatory treatment.