Steroid Information

Steroid Laws

For many performance enhancers, the steroid laws are very confusing, but on the surface they shouldn’t be, as they are very straightforward. In the United States, the anabolic steroid laws simply state it is against the law to manufacture, sell, purchase or possess anabolic steroids without legitimate medical need. What this means is to purchase and possess anabolic steroids legally we must have a prescription and to obtain a prescription we must have a medical need; performance enhancement is not considered such a need. Is it fair? No, not at all; after all, it is a direct infringement on liberty, and this is where the confusion truly begins.

The anabolic steroid laws of the United States are based on very shaky ground and are supported by rumor, myth and outright lies. The steroid laws of the U.S. are largely founded on the following ideas and principles:

  • Anabolic steroids can cause severe health problems
  • Anabolic steroids can alter your personality and mental state
  • Anabolic steroids create an unfair advantage in sports
  • Anabolic steroids are damaging to children
  • Anabolic steroids can kill you

While there are other issues at hand these are the principal factors but simply stating them does not make them true; they must be backed by facts. When discussing any topic, we must have facts to base an opinion or decision on. When congress enacts a law, it is charged with basing the law on the facts it has in front of them. During the steroid hearings that led to the original Steroid Control Act of 1990, congress was presented with the facts, and in the end classified anabolic steroids as Schedule III controlled substances. In order to schedule any item, by law there must be proof that such an item can cause physical or mental dependency, as well as physical or mental damage. To schedule anything that is found lacking in this regard would be against the law. Who came up with this standard? That would be congress. Let’s take a look at the five principles that are the basis of the steroid laws and see what we find.

  • Anabolic steroids can cause severe health problems: While it is true, abuse of anabolic steroids or any medication or hormone can cause severe health problems, this does not mean they automatically cause severe health problems. For example, if you buy a bottle of Aspirin and take all of them at once you’re going to have some serious issues arise, quite possibly even death. So what about anabolic steroids?

    At the time of the steroid hearings, the American Medical Association (AMA), along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was not able to provide any proof that anabolic steroids could cause severe damage, even in doses beyond traditional therapeutic use. Of course, there has to be a cutoff, but study after study has shown that even through supraphysiological doses most healthy adult men are fine. However, it is important to remember we’re all individuals, and again, we turn to our bottle of Aspirin. Most of us can take Aspirin and nothing bad happens, but there are those who cannot touch the first pill without becoming very sick.
  • Anabolic steroids can alter your personality and mental state: This is what is often referred to as “Roid Rage” and study after study has shown the very idea to be false. It is true, anabolic steroids can increase aggression, but they cannot alter our mental state. What we do with our aggression is up to us whether we supplement with steroids or not. In a study performed by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) using supraphysiological doses of testosterone, it was shown that any effects on mood and behavior, if they existed were too small to measure.

    It must be noted, if you are a violent person before steroid use, if you supplement you’re going to be a more aggressive violent person, and those who fit this mold should not supplement. For the rest of us, for the sane and even minded, if we supplement this does not change. We may indeed be more aggressive but we do not lose our self-control, and this aggression can be used properly. Aggression is not a bad word, it is not a nasty trait, what we do with aggression is what makes it good or bad.
  • Anabolic steroids create an unfair advantage in sports: No one can argue, anabolic steroids provide an advantage, but do they provide an unfair one? Take college sports; if one team has a better training facility do they not have an advantage? If an athlete has a better nutritionist does he not have an advantage? Further, if anabolic steroids are available to all who desire should it not be up to the athlete to decide if he wants this advantage?

    As it pertains to steroids in sports the truth is simple. If any sporting body wants to outlaw anabolic steroid use that is up to them. If the MLB wants to prohibit aluminum bats that’s up to them, if the NFL wants to outlaw steel cleats that’s up to them. If such a rule exists in a sport and an athlete still chooses to supplement they are breaking the rules and they are in-fact cheating. However, there is no reason for congress to make this determination.
  • Anabolic steroids are damaging to children: It is beyond question, anabolic steroids are very damaging to children, their young and fragile bodies simply cannot handle the influx of hormones. Use can lead to severe stunted growth and can even cause problems when use is discontinued. When an adolescent discontinuous use, with the high amounts of hormones now being absent it can cause depression because most adolescents do not know how to properly discontinue use.

    No one can argue against this truth, children should not be allowed to supplement with anabolic steroids, but is this enough reason to outlaw them for the rest of us? During the steroid hearings that led to the Steroid Control Act of 2004, it was stated young minds were too impressionable and therefore the steroid laws must be upheld. We then point to these simple facts; what about smoking, what about drinking, they’re legal for adults, why not steroids? How about driving a car? No one wants a 12 year old behind the wheel of a car, but does this mean adults shouldn’t be allowed? If a child sees an adult driving of course he wants to drive too, but that doesn’t mean we let him.
  • Anabolic steroids can kill you: With almost 100 years of use behind us there has never once been a single recorded death directly linked to anabolic steroid use. Absolutely, there have been those who have died who were found to have anabolic steroids in their system, but this doesn’t mean the steroids killed them. There have over the years been many high profile cases where athletes have died and were found to have supplemented with anabolic steroids. In some cases many other drugs were found in their system as well, but steroids took the blame. Is this responsible? Of course it’s not, it’s almost downright idiotic. Then we have the case of all cases, the death of NFL great Lyle Alzado. Shortly before his death, appearing weak and frail before a national TV audience, Alzado stated his impending death was due to years of anabolic steroid use. Shortly after his tragic death Alzado’s own doctors stated there was no link between anabolic steroids and Alzado’s death; Lyle Alzado died of lymphoma. Still, because he admittingly supplemented it was deemed by the media and congress that steroids were the culprit. In the eyes of many, this was the final nail in the coffin and gave the steroid laws of the U.S. the legitimacy they needed; unfortunately for the steroid laws it was anything but legitimate.

What does all of this tell us? Remember, to Schedule anabolic steroids, by law there must be proof that such an item can cause physical or mental dependency, as well as physical or mental damage. At the original steroid hearings, based on the facts the AMA along with the FDA and even the DEA opposed the ban. The feeling was so strong the AMA stated “we vehemently oppose the ban” and it was a statement shared by the other agencies. Again, what does this tell us? The truth is simple, congress broke its own law in passing the steroid laws of the United States. Of course, when we think about congress this probably doesn’t come as a surprise. What were their motivies in passing such laws? Who knows, there are many assumptions and some of them appear to hold a lot of validity, but again, the truth is simple, the anabolic steroid laws of the United States are a direct infringement upon liberty. In the U.S. we are all entitled to pursue our own happiness by the liberty we are granted, so as long as our pursuit does not infringe upon the liberty and happiness of another. Take again smoking and drinking, two activities that are far more damaging to the individual than anabolic steroid use. We are allowed to smoke and drink if we want, even if it causes us damage we are permited. If we were not permitted liberty would be trampled upon, and as so long as our activity harms no one else liberty is upheld.