The main limitation with my topic isn't that there currently aren't any studies on the long-term effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), but mainly in how the studies are conducted. Two studies on the long-term adverse effects of anabolics were done on oral compounds, which are known to have very different effects than the injectable compounds. Oral compounds are much faster acting, can potentially be hepatotoxic, and must be taken several times per day. Injectable compounds are injected directly into the muscle and have a much longer active life in your body. As a result of this, the muscle gains aren't as dramatic as oral compounds. This would be fine, but the study didn't state that. It just presented its findings as fact. Another limitation that I found is that studies on AAS don't indicate that different compounds effect people in different ways. For example, Winstrol, which is commonly used by bodybuilders for fat loss or “cutting” purposes, will have a profoundly different effect on someone than the use of Trenbolone, which is often used for “bulking” purposes.

Over ninety percent of the research that I've found on the adverse and long-term effects of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been done on mice or other animals. The studies that were done on humans were being done on people with severe burns or underweight subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These were interesting to read but offered little relevance to athletes cheating in sports. AAS affect athletes differently than people who are barely clinging to life.

One study on chromosome damage as a result of anabolic steroid use found that individuals who are weight training and taking AAS have a higher rate of cytotoxicity and chromosome damage compared to the two other groups that were tested. The study was done over a two-month period and compared the results of fifteen males weight training, fifteen males weight training and taking AAS, and twenty sedentary males. The problem that I have with this study is that in the discussion portion of the study, the researchers tried to take their short-term results and infer that there would be an almost linear progression of worsening effects if the study lasted one more second longer.

Currently, there aren't any studies done in which the participant is given a controlled dose of testosterone with all other variables controlled. This is mostly due to ethical reasons and that nobody will consent to doing long-term testing. The fact that the use of PEDs in sports is so taboo makes it difficult to find peer reviewed information on it, but the fact that it is so controversial makes it much more interesting to research. This could be considered a limitation or possibly a strength.


Contribution: Athletes who use steroids aren't bad people. They're just trying to do their jobs better.

“The only real solution for eliminating PEDs in sport is for the fans to stand up and say ‘we don’t want to see any more doping in sports.’ This hasn’t happened and probably won’t. What this is about, pure and simple, is entertainment. We like seeing 'bigger than life' people doing 'bigger than life' things. The fans have arguably created the market for these drugs” (Yesalis et al 1998). Fans like seeing world records broken every year and the revenue generated by sports teams reflects this.

PEDs aren't ruining sports or American culture as many people would like to believe. In reality, because PEDs in sports has become commonplace over the years, revenues have increased in the trillions of dollars (Adams et al 2004). The one thing that all the trillion plus dollar major sports have realized is that fans want to see larger than life people doing larger than life things. Fans want to see 40-yard dash times shattered each year at football combines. They want their linemen all to bench press over 500 pounds (Adams et al 2004).

In the future, I think that people will be more accepting toward PEDs because things are heading in that direction already. “Hormone replacement therapy” is just a fancy term for taking PEDs. There is reason to believe that there will be a new form of performance enhancement. Within the next several years, there will be a new trend among athletes called “gene doping.” There has already been conclusive testing in mice as well as in cows, and it’s only a matter of time before athletes get their hands on this technology (Riewald et al 2005).


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