The number of athletes who abuse anabolic steroids is unknown.
Many athletic associations ban their use, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Olympics, so few athletes are willing to admit that they use these drugs. Players who test positive face suspension and, upon testing positive a second time, are expelled from the League.
MLB players are tested once a year, and if they test positive they can be suspended for up to ten days.
If a player tests positive after the first test, they can be suspended without pay for up to one year.
Anabolic steroids are not the same as steroid medications, such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, that are legitimately used to treat asthma and inflammation of the skin or other parts of the body. Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone.
However, steroids cannot improve an athlete's agility or skill.What they don't know, or choose to ignore, is the damage to the body that abuse of these drugs can cause.Over the counter dietary supplements, such as creatine, should be used with caution.Creatine can cause short-term cramping and diarrhea.While less is known about long-term use, creatine has been linked to muscle injury and kidney problems.Manufacturers claim they can build muscles and improve strength without the side effects of steroids.Taken in small doses, nutritional supplements may not be harmful.When improperly used, anabolic steroids can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease; liver damage and cancers; and, stroke and blood clots.Other side effects of steroids include: nausea and vomiting, increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, headaches, aching joints, muscle cramps, diarrhea, sleep problems and severe acne.While the total impact of anabolic steroid abuse is not known, health care providers have observed the following problems: Because anabolic steroids are derived from testosterone, they can have profound effects on the hormone levels of both male and female abusers.These effects can cause any or all of the following problems in men: Changes in the male reproductive system are often reversible, if anabolic steroids have not been abused for a long period of time.