chapter  9
24 Pages

The misuse of anabolic–androgenic steroids: Susan H. Backhouse

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS)1 are substances related to the male hormone

testosterone. Although their use is legitimised for medical reasons, some individuals

self-administer these substances to enhance performance or improve physique.

Accordingly, more has been written about AAS than almost any other perfor-

mance-or image-enhancing substance of its time and the public’s recognition of

illegal AAS use for performance gains dates back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics when

Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for Stanozolol. Over two decades

later, androgens remain the most commonly used ergogenic aid in organised sport.

Specifically, in 2008, anabolic agents contributed 59 per cent of all reported adverse

analytical findings (World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA], 2008), with Nandrolone

and Stanozolol the most common drugs within this class. This figure was signifi-

cantly higher than the next prohibited drugs class, Cannabinoids, which comprised

9 per cent of adverse findings. Therefore, the misuse of AAS continues despite the

tacit acceptance, in most quarters, of a relationship between misuse and negative

health reactions (Kanayama, Hudson, & Pope, 2010). Thus, the self-administration

of AAS remains a cosmopolitan issue as its use spreads across continents.