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 obvious 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 teenagers. Read on to know more about the history of steroids.
The history of anabolics in the XIX century
In 1849, the scientist Arnold Berthold made the first step in studying the action of the male hormone testosterone on the animal body. 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, the first attempts were made to create drugs that affected the athlete’s strengths. Also in 1889, scientists managed to observe the effect of testosterone on the human body.
The history of anabolics in the XX century
In 1935 the testosterone formula was finalized by the French scientist Ernst Laqueur. Simultaneously, Adolf Butenandt and Leopold Ruži?ka also dealt with improving the properties of testosterone. They patented the technology and were awarded the Nobel prize for their research achievements.
After that, the production of the first drugs based on testosterone was established. However, there was one significant problem. The drug was developed with an oily base that did not dissolve in water, and therefore it did not have the desired effect when taken orally. Over time, the formula underwent a number of improvements and injection medicines allowing for achieving better results started to be manufactured.
There is evidence that soldiers of the fascist army used steroids to increase aggressiveness, but these data were not confirmed. Anabolic steroids were first introduced in large sports in 1954 by Olympic weightlifters. A special role in the popularity of steroids among athletes was played by the introduction of an oral steroid pill called Dianabol (methandrostenolone). This drug was created by the doctor of the American weightlifters’ team, Dr. John Ziegler, together with the pharmaceutical firm “CIVA” in 1956. Becoming available, this drug spread very quickly first among weightlifters, and then among other athletes. Its popularity and wide distribution was promoted by the development of bodybuilding. Gradually, the drug began to be taken by female athletes.
In the 1960s, most of the drugs sold today were already on the market. Unimpeded use of anabolic drugs continued until 1964. During that period, athletes used steroid drugs in large doses and in various combinations they chose themselves, often without consulting doctors at all. Recipes for the use of these drugs were transmitted by one group of athletes to another. These methods of taking anabolics have not yet been tested by medical research.
Anabolic steroids were especially popular 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 Olympic Games in 1983, 19 athletes were disqualified for using steroids. In addition, in the 1980’s, several new anabolic steroids appeared. In the US, the special law of 1990 placed anabolics into Schedule 3 of the Controlled Substances Act. The IOC and other sports organizations banned the use of steroids by athletes.
Anabolic steroids in today’s society
Nowadays AAS are extensively used by fitness “buffs”, bodybuilders, and 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 recovery time after workouts or injuries, which enables them to exercise uninterrupted, 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.
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.