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How Has Tech. Advances In Creating Designer Steroids Affected Sports?

How has tech. advances in creating designer steroids affected sports? Learn more about what designer steroids are, how they work, who has used them and what the future holds with the battle between designing and testing steroids. Learn more...

TOPIC: How Has Tech. Advances In Creating Designer Steroids Affected Sports?

The Question:

Never have steroids been such a concern in sports as they are now. Athletes have cycled their steroids off according to their drug tests. If they had a drug test coming up, they would have flushed all traces of the steroid(s) out of their system. So, to make it fair you give them random drug tests. This way they will be tested without any time to flush it out of their system. But it seems they've beaten the system again. They took a designer steroid which does not show up on the drug tests.

How has the technological advances in creating designer steroids affected sports?

Which athletes do you think have successfully "beaten" the system?

What kinds of advances do you see in the future for creating designer steroids?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

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1st Place - BurningHeart
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"Where there is a will, there is a way" - It's an expression often used to describe something positive, something achieved by having your heart set on it. However that phrase does not always apply to positive things, as seen with the invention of designer steroids.

Designer steroids came into the mainstream as an alternative to traditional anabolic steroids; they do not show up on drug tests because they do not leave chemical traces that the tests look for. Instead they metabolize into DHT (Dihydrotestosterone, most commonly referred to regarding male baldness) and estrogen, both compounds that are normal in humans.

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Barry Bonds:

    Designer steroids hit mainstream news in late 2003 when Barry Bonds admitted to unknowingly using THG (Tetrahydrogestrinone, an anabolic steroid that is not identified with the current testing procedures). Bonds claimed that his personal trainer supplied him with a cream and a clear liquid, and told Bonds it was arthritis cream and flaxseed oil when in actuality it was THG.

An Anonymous Tip Off:

    Even though the Barry Bonds incident brought the attention of designer steroids to the public, these steroids were discovered on a different occasion. In June of 2003, an anonymous track and field coach sent a vial of clear liquid to the Olympic drug testing laboratory at the University of California at Los Angeles.

    With the liquid, the coach suggested that chemists test the liquid for an undetectable steroid. After months of testing the clear liquid, chemists discovered it was an undetectable steroid, THG. Soon after this discovery, they tested past urine samples of athletes that had passed drug tests and found that many contained THG.

The Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative:

    Further in the THG conspiracy, officials speculated that a company known as BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative) developed and distributed this steroid. BALCO is a company known to distribute nutritional supplements to athletes. BALCO's president denied the claim, yet the FDA and IRS raided the company's offices in September of 2003.

    Two years later, in October of 2005, BALCO founder Victor Conte was officially sentenced to four months in prison and four months of house arrest as part of a plea deal for his role as mastermind behind a scheme to provide professional athletes with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs.

    In addition, James Valente, BALCO's vice president, received probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges of steroid distribution. Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' trainer, was sentenced to six months after pleading guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge, consisting of three months in prison and three months in home confinement.

    Even though the BALCO conspiracy was unveiled and designer steroids are widely known, it does not stop the fact that steroids change sports... for the good and for the bad.

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Part 1:
How Have The Technological Advances In Creating Designer Steroids Affected Sports?

Although steroids are mainly regarded as bad substances, their impact towards sports has good and bad effects. Steroids have their best impact in sports when they take a low-profile. When steroids are used but not mentioned, the benefits towards the sport are great. Athletes come close to shattering records (Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds) and interest in the sport rises dramatically. However on the opposite end, when steroids enter the limelight of sports, the integrity and interest in the sport falls dramatically.

Steroids' Affect On Public Interest in Sports.
Steroids' Affect On Public Interest in Sports.

The reason steroid talk is harmful for a sport is because of the competition factor. People watch sports because they want to see two even teams go at it. Just think of it, if you knew one team was going to totally dominate the other, not even knowing which team it would be, would you want to watch the game?

You may, but would you want to watch it as much as two even teams compete in a back and forth matchup where one barely pulls it off at the end? Most likely not.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Will The Steroid Scandal Empty Out The Stadiums?

Designer steroids hurt this interest in the sport. No longer are competitions considered evenly matched (all else equal). Now one team can be all on undetectable steroids and have a huge unfair advantage. Is it guaranteed the athletes are on steroids? No... but is it a possibility? Yes. Even a slight possibility that a team may be cheating is enough to make many people not want to watch sports.

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It Depends On The Team.

We've discussed the affect on the sport as a whole, but how does it affect individual athletes? Before steroids became a major public interest, individual "stars" would rise to the top and be a role-model for the youth. Nowadays there are many less role-model athletes in sports.

When a certain athlete becomes famous, they are immediately scrutinized as being a candidate for steroids, and in most cases this is true. Even if the entire team is taking the exact same steroid, the star athletes will be the ones focused on in the media.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Even If The Whole Team Uses,
The Media Will Focus On The Star Athletes.

No longer can the fans of the sport rely on drug testing to catch offenders because of designer steroids. Athletes must realize that in the past taking steroids may have been the best thing for themselves and the sport, however nowadays it is career suicide and harmful to the sport.

Part 2:
Which Athletes Do You Think Have Successfully "Beaten" The System?

Athletes have taken or are currently taking steroids, namely designer steroids without getting caught. However the question is who gets away with it more? Which sport contains the greatest number of athletes that have "beaten" the system? To answer this question we must refer to the policies for the most popular sports in the USA and Canada:

Steroid Penalties:

Penalties For Positive Tests For Steroid Use In Various Pro Sports.
1st Test 2nd Test 3rd Test 4th Test 5th Test
(Nov. '05)
50 games 100 games *Lifetime ban * *
(Jan. '05)
10 days 30 days 60 days 1 year Commissioner's decision
Counseling 15 days 25 days 50 days 1 year
Minor Leagues 15 games 30 games 60 games 1 year Lifetime ban
NFL 4-game minimum 6-game minimum 1-year minimum 1-year minimum 1-year minimum
NBA 5 games 10 games 25 games 25 games 25 games
NHL No testing
Olympics 2 years Lifetime ban
* -- subject to right to seek reinstatement after two years of suspension, with arbitral review of reinstatement decision.

Based on this chart, the sport with the most athletes that beat the system would be the athletes that have the least to lose. This is referred to as a cost/benefit analysis. Before deciding to use steroids, athletes ask themselves consciously or subconsciously, do the benefits of steroids outweigh the punishment of getting caught?

Olympic competitors have the strictest steroid policies, 1 offense equals a two year suspension while a 2nd offense equals a lifetime ban. Add in the fact that the Olympics have the most rigorous testing procedures; it is safe to say that they have the fewer amount of athletes beating the system. It is simply not worth the risk to use steroids in the Olympics.

In the NHL however, there are actually no testing procedures. This sport would have the greatest cost/benefit ratio, and thus the most athletes using steroids, per se. That was not the question however; it was which sport has the most athletes beating the system.

Click Image To Enlarge.
The NHL Has No Testing Procedures.

Since you cannot beat the system without a system, we must look at the sport with the 2nd least punishment for using steroids. Quickly looking at the chart it would seem like the NFL has the least strict punishment, as the first two offenses are least game suspensions than the NBA.

However for the 3rd+ offenses, the NBA lags behind the NFL by suspending their players for only 25 games (approximately 30% of a season), as opposed to the NFL suspending their players for an entire year.

Click Image To Enlarge.
The NBA Suspends For Only 25 Games.

From this information we can conclude that the NBA has the least strict policy for being caught with steroids. For the athletes that want to do steroids, punishment is the greatest deterrent. Thus the little punishment of the NBA means that the NBA should have the greatest number of players using steroids, furthermore the greatest number of players "beating the system."

Click Image To Enlarge.
Times Caught Before A Suspension.
Since the NHL does not regulate steroids, it is pretty much impossible to be suspended a whole season for use of them, however for comparative purposes they are shown as 15.

Part 3:
What Kinds Of Advances Do You See In The Future For Creating Designer Steroids?

With enough given time for research, I believe almost anything is possible. However in the upcoming years I think the battle between steroids and sport franchises will progress but stay the same distance apart.

To understand what I mean by this, take the current situation of steroids with the regulatory factions. Even though the testing has become more rigorous than ever before, chemists are designing steroids that are impractical to detect with our current means. When testing procedures advance, steroid design advances. It is a cat and mouse game that never ends.

There was an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle about the advances that are being made to test athletes for designer steroids. Instead of testing an individual's blood or urine for traces of the steroid, they are able to test one's androgen receptor (the cellular "switch" that anabolic steroids use) to see if it has been "turned on" recently by a steroid.

If this new testing procedure proves to be effective, it would be able to determine if an athlete has used anabolic steroids without having to look for a certain steroid.

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While this new testing procedure sounds like a breakthrough in ridding the sports world of steroid scandals, I am skeptical that it could put an end to steroids in sports. If the testing procedure is introduced, I can see some company designing a steroid that masks the turning on of the androgen receptor. I can also see a company designing a supplement that hides the fact that the androgen receptor has been recently activated.

No matter how many advances are made in the steroid design or steroid detection fields, the fact is that neither one will ever win, at least in the immediate future. The promise of money, fame, and a pleasing physique is enough to motivate people to research new ways to design undetectable steroids. Whether good or bad, there is one thing you must remember... "Where there is a will, there is a way."



2nd Place - Dallas68
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Never have steroids been such a concern in sports as they are now. Athletes have cycled their steroids off according to their drug tests. If they had a drug test coming up, they would have flushed all traces of the steroid(s) out of their system. So, to make it fair you give them random drug tests.

This way they will be tested without any time to flush it out of their system. But it seems they've beaten the system again. They took a designer steroid which does not show up on the drug tests.

How have the technological advances in creating designer steroids affected sports?

Let us define a designer steroid:

Click Image To Enlarge.

    Designer Steroid: A synthetic steroid derived by simple chemical modification from another steroid, usually an anabolic steroid.

Hence it is a "designer" steroid; therefore the chemical make up has been changed to suit the intended user or market. Most would want increased muscle mass and less side effects.

Technology over the past century has developed our world much more than the past millennia. So therefore everything that you can buy, see, use is larger, works better and is simply more significant to everyday life. Much of the world's designer produce is mass-produced for a large market.

The Black market steroid syndicates are very large in size because of the huge market it caters to around the world. Athletes, bodybuilders, young men or women looking to change their physiques will all at one time ponder about such substances.

Designer steroids have come about by science's increased knowledge of chemical make-ups of different parts of a human. This gives the scientists a great advantage to manipulate the chemistry of these steroids to develop even greater mass and reduce the un-necessary parts of the chemical.

A popular "designer steroid" was THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) which was a combination of two steroids chemically fitted together. This was forcefully banned when it came to light that many athletes were potentially doping the drug.

Designer steroids would gain huge popularity because they are aimed at not testing positive at an anti-doping test. They are synthetic like any other steroid to mimic the effects of testosterone. Technology makes it easier to produce stronger, better, bigger steroids to fill the athlete with new found speed, energy and zest.

However this is considered unethical to many who see the steroids as any other drug and should not be allowed, this is agreed upon and the athletes should realize that there is much one can do, without crossing over to substances which are illegal in their sport and by law.

Beating The System:
Which Athletes Do You Think Have Successfully "Beaten" The System?

There are many athletes involved in many sports, there is possibly a massive quantity of sportsmen and sportswomen doping. The athletes who would be the ones most under scrutiny are those at the top of the pile, those stars that shine by a margin which was thought impossible by normal standards.

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I believe many top class athletes in any sporting discipline were all one step ahead of the rest in terms of drug use. Many records standing today, I do believe are that much better because of the athletes past or current usage of drugs such as steroids.

Track athletes, basketball players, National football league players and Major league baseball players are the biggest concern by much of the media and public. I do not want you to think that every athlete who is better than the next is using steroids but take their records with a pinch of salt.

Balco lab is a laboratory synonymous with the steroid world and athletic sporting. Many Athletes have testified and many have been subpoenaed for their involvement or knowledge of such activities. Regina Jacobs a track runner as well as Kevin Toth a shot-put athlete have been customers of the lab.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and boxer Shane Mosley, have been subpoenaed to the court. Now some of these athletes are not directly involved or are not necessarily guilty but do have involvement in the lab. Not much media input or reporters were allowed.

Future Advances
What Kinds Of Advances Do You See In The Future For Creating Designer Steroids?

In the future of anabolic designer steroids I see increased testosterone which enters the system and has a moderate half-life to do its job and make its presence felt then get out with minimal side effects.

The ideal steroid would need to be a triple steroid with three certain steroids each with distinct capabilities for increased power and muscle without the need for extensive use of Post cycle therapy and the ability to return to normal free and SHBG test levels in a matter of days.

This would not really be heard of to have such a powerful combination of steroids with the ability to leave the system with not much safety precautions having to taken. However the future has so much more to be discovered and tinkered with.

Who knows? We may see a human physically run 100 meters in 7.5 seconds. Who knows with the future of anabolics.