Ironman, November 1969

The Question of Steroids

by Bruce Page

This subject has been bandied about for some time now in various articles and in various publications. Many conclusions have been arrived at concerning the health of the taker over a prolonged period of time and all seem to indicate that there is a very definite danger in the overall picture when taking large doses of tissue builders over a long period of time.

But something else should also be admitted (even though the more intelligent thinking athletes abhor the use of the drug) by one and all of the bodybuilding fraternity, that the only way to achieve the type of fantastic developement that we see in our top physique men today is to take the anabolic steroids. There may be one or two exceptions to this rule, but by and large this is true, and I think that by this time we are ready to admit this. There may be some "authorities" on muscle building who will swear that by hard work and proper nutrition, which includes gross quantities of protein, anyone with the proper bone structure etc. can build an equally sensational physique as the man on the steroids but they will have to show me to convince me ! There is no doubt in my mind that if you want to compete today in physique contests with the best then you have to resort to steroids, otherwise you do not stand a chance. One very prominent physique star mad this quite clear not too long ago. Another such star made a statement in London during last year's Mr. Universe contest. When asked by admirers who's protein he used he quipped, "Who needs protein when there's Dianabol around ?" So there's a sample of the thinking of the general run of bodybuilders who are not seeking health with their muscles, but simply as much size as they can amass with the view of winning physique titles regardless of the consequences.

Up until now it would appear from what I have written that I am all in favour of steroids. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I simply wanted to state the foregoing facts and lay it on the line, so to speak, that it must be admitted that the pill is the fastest and surest method of building great muscle mass, but it is also a dangerous way.

The drugs that the muscle boys use are androgenic-anabolic steroids, synthetic versions of testosterone, the male sex hormone. They help the body to retain nitrogen which helps in the synthesis of protein and the creation of new tissue. But because they are imitators of the male hormone, they tend to exaggerate the secondary sex characteristics, deepening the voice, coarsening the skin and increasing body hair. In addition, in some instances, according to reports, they have caused liver damage and fluid retention. Some physicians believe they can cause a letent cancer to become an active malignancy. Other researchers feel that the use of the drug speeds demineralizing or weakening of the bones, diminishes libido, decreases the size of the testicles and causes changes in liver functions.

You would think that with all the above listed problems that can arise out of the use of these steroids, the individual would leave them entirely alone but such is not the case. Besides this, and to add to the risk, the top muscle men take doses far and above that which is prescribed and if they cannot get enough to take the quantity they wish they will get prescriptions from several doctors so that they quantity is almost limitless. And this is where the real danger lies with these individuals. They are not satisfied to take the drug over a short period of time and as prescribed, but rather they take them over long periods and in much greater qantities because only in this manner do you gain the incredible size that some of the fellows possess today. Small quantities over short periods do not bring the same results and this is the prime reason they are so dangerous, simply because the user resorts to excess to achieve his goal.

Oddly enough, many of the users are unwilling to admit to it. This is a little silly really because it is now becoming so apparent that it is easy to tell a user from a non user, and so by refusing to admit that he uses the drug he causes smug little grins to appear on the faces of those he is trying to fool Actually it makes little or no difference to John Q. Public whether he does or doesn't, but he must realize in his own mind that without the aid of the drug he would never have reached his present stature and that if he stops taking them he will lose what he has gained from them plus the dangers he has placed his body in in the process.

There are very definite uses for thes drugs, and given under careful medical supervision to post surgical patients they help to shorten convalescence, stave off infection and speed healing of bone fractures and surgical wounds. In selected cases they are given to patients, elderly people, usually, suffering from chronic debilitation.

While these drugs are never recommended for healthy people, a number of physicians will write prescriptions anayway. It has been estimated that as many as 47% of weight lifters, and who knows how many bodybuilders, have received the drug from physicians and all of them were on a dosage that was two to four times greater than the recommended dosage.

So, while you many not be able to compete with the greats of muscledome today, may I suggest you stick with the old standby, and the healthiest method of weight training and good nutrition to develop your physique. You'll be healthier and happier if you do.