The drive to compete and to win is as old as humankind is. Throughout history, athletes have sought foods and potions to transform their bodies into powerful, well-tuned machines. Greek wrestlers ate huge quantities of meat to build muscle, and Norse warriors, the Berserkers, ate hallucinogenic mushrooms to gear up for battle (Schwarzenegger, 223). .
The first competitive athletes believed to be charged taking drugs and other nonfood substances to improve performance were swimmers in Amsterdam in the 1860's. Doping, with anything from strychnine and caffeine to cocaine and heroin, spread to other sports over the next several decades (Schwarzenegger, 227).
The use of anabolic steroids by athletes is relatively new. Testosterone was first synthesized in the 1930's and was introduced into the sporting arena in the 1940's and 1950's. When the Russian weightlifting team thanks, in part, to synthetic testosterone walked off with a pile of medals at the 1952 Olympics, an American physician determined that U.S. competitors should have the same advantage (Rozin, 3).
By 1958 a U.S. pharmaceutical firm had developed anabolic steroids. Although the physician soon realized the drug had unwanted side effects, it was too late to halt its spread into the sports world (Rozin, 3). Early users were mainly body builders, weightlifters, football players, and discus, shot put or javelin throwers. These competitors relied heavily on bulk and strength. During the 1970's demand grew as athletes in other sports sought the competitive edge that anabolic steroids seemed to provide. The 1980's gave way to increased use of steroids among both competitive and amateur athletes (Hemma,19). The current use of steroids is believed to be on a decline due to the growing awareness of their dangers and the availability of safer alternatives.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone. These derivatives of testosterone promote the growth of skeletal muscle and lean body mass.