Who makes these drugs that athletes aren't supposed to use?

So, we hear all about steroids, precursors, derivatives, etc., but where do they come from? I’ve seen a couple advertised on the internet, but I can’t find out if Pfizer has a “probably illicit purposes lab” somwhere with mad scientists cranking this stuff out. Are they made by the same people who make herbal Viagra? I presume that these aren’t FDA regulated, so they’re probably the hell of a lot cheaper to make than a perscription drug.

Also, are these illegal to use in general, or just outlawed by certain sport regulation agencies?

No many of the drugs of legitimate therapeutic uses --say for example a steroid that helps injuries heal faster because they assist in cell growth and division which helps out with the growth of muscle tissue and in some cases bone size and strength.

So they are produced legitimately by pharmaceutical companies to treat a whole lot of different conditions that benefit from the added boost in cellular growth.

But like any medication, they can end up in the black market and used for illicit purposes.

EPO (Erythropoietin) is a common drug used by endurance athletes. It helps create red blood cells, which is good for increased oxygen uptake in the blood. Good for aerobic events, in other words.

EPO is a legitimate drug used to treat cancer patients. I’m not sure who makes it, but it’s a regular pharmaceutical company, FDA regulated and all that.

Most anabolic steroids are schedule III drugs and do have legitimate medical uses (I believe usually for certain sexual or hormonal disorders) and are manufactured for such use by pharmaceutical companies under various brand names. These are usually obtained by whatever means one uses to ilegally obtain prescription medicines in the U.S., e.g. prescription fraud, theft, etc. It’s often easier to obtain anabolic steroids from a foreign source, where sales and distribution aren’t so heavily regulated. Around here, the most commonly abused steroids come from Mexican pharmaceutical companies.

Cattle steroids are legal in states with a lot of cows, and those can be used in humans.

Here are a few things for which you may be legally prescribed anabolic steroids (from nim.nih.gov):

  • to help patients gain weight after a severe illness, injury, or continuing infection.
  • to treat certain types of anemia.
  • to treat certain kinds of breast cancer in some women.
  • to treat hereditary angioedema, which causes swelling of the face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs

It is “cheating” in the world of sports of course because you are using chemicals to add muscle mass and strength to artificially improve performance, and often at a very real risk of your health (antoher reason it’s frowned upon). Side effects include elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, enlargment of the heart (it is a muscle and will be affected by the steroids) and in the long-term can lead to liver damage.

Testosterone is a natural anabolic steroid, but too much in your system indicates you’ve been acquiring it artificially.

Due to abuse, U.S. Congress added anabolic steroids to a list of “controlled substances”. Illicitly acquired anabolic steroids are like any controlled drug, either someone is being naughty with prescriptions or they are acquiring stuff that has been smuggled.

Anabolic steroids have legit medical uses, but you should know that some of the most famous ‘got caught cheating’ athletes were on a different kind of juice: Steroids for vetinary use.

Ben Johnson, stripped of his sprinter’s 100m gold after testing positive, was using a notorious drug call Winstrol-V, an iintramuscular injectable (injected into muscle where it is carried throughout the body).

Winstrol V: the V designates “vetinary use”. The label has pictures of farm animals.

Equipose used to be popular in the 90’s, and it had pictures of horses on the bottle and ‘for vetinary use only’ warnings. The name also has latin roots designating it is for horsies.

One particular steroid blend of four drugs, “sustanon”, came prepacked in a needle that was so large/thick/long as to be frightening. The gauge of the needle tip was intended to pierce animal flesh/muscle.

Recently, ‘designer drugs’ have been formulated which are hard to detect AND relatively easy to mask…AND disappear shortly after use, which is vital, because athletes will come off the drug during testing, even if it is hard to detect. When you come off the drug, your performance will decline for a few weeks. These designer drugs are just newer versions of anabolic steroids or drugs that it is believed to produce anabolic effects (but lack formal testing…?THG?).

There are docs who tweak the drugs and supply athletes, and docs who try to keep pace with the tweaking and masking techniques. Sports Illustrated and some other big mags have published stories about the docs who are duking it out.