Canadian track star Ben Johnson was denied his gold medal in the 1988 Olympics after he tested positive for anabolic steroids. This incident sparked worldwide attention to the extent of anabolic steroid use. To date, the International Olympic Committee has barred the use of seventeen anabolic steroids. Other organizations, including The National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association's International Amateur Athletic Federation, and the International Federation of Body Builders have followed suit. Athletes and non-athletes alike are still abusing anabolic steroids to excel in sports. Anabolic steroids belong to a group of androgenic drugs. They are synthetic derivatives of testosterone and other male hormones. Most healthy adult males produce 2-10 milligrams of testosterone per day. Females produce trace amounts of this hormone. The hormone helps the body retain dietary protein, which aids in the growth of muscles, bones, and skin. They can also affect aggressiveness and sex drive. Steroids tend to mimic testosterone's body building traits, while minimizing the masculine effect.
The adrenal glands in women and young boys produce very little testosterone. It is the increase in the production of testosterone in young males that precipitates puberty. The anabolic effect of testosterone during puberty includes deepening of the voice, increasing muscle mass and strength, and decreasing body fat. All of this takes place without exercise or training. Anabolic steroids can be taken by injection, by mouth, by skin creams, or patches. Steroids are often taken in six to twelve week cycles. The dosage depends on the sport, as well as the perceived needs of the athlete. Depending on what they want to achieve, athletes control how they respond to the drug and the physiological effect it has on them. Athletes often take far higher doses of anabolic steroids than have been given for therapeutic use or in clinical studies.