By Pratham Kaushik
The author is a first-year law student at Symbiosis Law School Noida
The first question that comes to the mind of people who are unaware of the meaning of the title is ‘what are steroids and from where do they originate? Is it safe to use steroids and performance-enhancing drugs? If not, are they legal? And if they are not, why do people use them?’
This article will cover the moral and the legal aspects of steroid usage and its consequences and many of the repercussions too. I will leave it to the reader thereafter that, if possible, will they ever opt to take steroids or not as it is a matter of personal opinion.
WHAT ARE STEROIDS?
I will make it easy for you, steroids are chemical compounds and substances that are man-made but some are produced in the body itself. To my knowledge, the steroid which the human body produces is Testosterone, which is produced in larger quantities in males as compared to females. Testosterone is one such compound that aids the body to lose fat and gain muscle and also improves strength levels to a certain extent.
One of the very first anabolic steroids was formed in 1935, in Germany, as a solution to low testosterone levels. There are medical steroids too, which do not carry the same amount of risk as compared to the type of steroids this article is about. I am going to talk about the steroids used in bodybuilding and athletics.
IS USAGE OF STEROIDS LEGAL?
This answer is a little complicated, in the United States, it is illegal to use anabolic steroids without a medical prescription. Although each and every professional bodybuilder is on steroids yet, it is not legal in America to use them without a prescription. The usage of steroids is also illegal in our own country India, but here, they can be used after a written medical prescription. Bodybuilding is a trend in our country nowadays, do you really think that each and every bodybuilder will be able to get an appropriate prescription? If you think so, I can clear the air. A lot of these bodybuilders do not regulate their usage legally. Even in the sport of mixed martial arts, a lot of the fighters have been caught juicing on “gear” before or after the fights.
WHAT DO STEROIDS DO TO YOUR BODY?
Generally speaking, using anabolic steroids like Danabol, Turinabol and Stanozolol improve the overall body composition of a human being. Taking anabolic steroids enhances the metabolism of the body and increases the overall protein synthesis of the human body. You must have noticed your gym friend taking a high protein diet accompanied by a big jar of whey protein? Let me tell you, even I take whey protein because it is a natural substance and is derived from milk. Well, not all of the protein I put into my body gets absorbed as I am a natural gym-goer. My rate of absorption of protein could be around 8-10 grams per hour and that is kind of slow provided that I need at least 1-1.5 grams of protein on every kg of my bodyweight. That means I need to have more than 100 grams of protein in my diet. Well, taking steroids does increase the ability of the body to use protein to build muscle but some say that it does not really help in better absorption, rather it surely helps to utilize it better than a natural athlete. There are performance-enhancing drugs like EPO which increase the ability of the red blood cells to absorb more oxygen and subsequently, increase hemoglobin levels, thereby increasing the overall endurance of the human body and stamina. UFC fighter, TJ Dillashaw, was caught red-handed after he got tested positive for EPO after his title fight with bantamweight champion, one of my favorite fighters, Henry Cejudo. He was banned from the competition for a period of two years by the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency). Even the famous cricketer, Andre Russell, was banned from playing cricket for a certain period of time as he got tested positive for a Performance-Enhancing Drug. Steroids can also cause water retention in the body which may give a bulky look and a muscular look to the user. For that, people use certain diuretics to take that water out from the body which in turn, gives them a shredded look. Steroids, also improve the overall strength of a person. I watched a YouTube video of an influencer named Tarun Gill who stated that he was using an ECA stack along with Stanozolol which fuelled him for his workouts. 
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF STEROIDS
Steroids, when not taken under supervision, are substances that can ruin your life. The following are demerits of steroids that cause –
- Severe acne which may even bleed a lot and cause intolerable pain
- Hair loss because of the use of SARMs (excessive usage, SARMs are not actually steroids but do have anabolic properties.)
- Cardiovascular problems
- Severe cases of Gynecomastia (unusual chest fat around the nipples)
- A severe spike in blood sugar levels which may cause illnesses
- A drastic decrease in testosterone levels after going off-cycle.
- May cause a decrease in sex drive.
In my personal opinion, the cons of steroid usage outweigh the pros. Steroid addiction is a very real thing, once a person sees a drastic change in his body and gets muscular and athletic built, he may continue taking them before realizing how much it damages the heart, liver, and the overall hormonal balance of the body. Several bodybuilders have died due to the usage of steroids, a famous example is Rich Piana, who was open about his steroid usage and ended up succumbing to his unhealthy steroid usage. It was observed by doctors that his heart and liver had increased to twice the size of an average human heart. One recent example is Mr. Olympia 2018, Shawn Rhoden, who died of a massive heart attack. I believe that his high usage must have killed him. I have even watched an interview of a boy who started his steroid cycle at 17, got severe bleeding acne, and had such low testosterone levels that his testosterone report was similar to an old man’s testosterone levels. It damaged his mental health so much that he even failed a class. 
CONCLUSION: IS IT ETHICAL?
The usage of steroids is a very subjective matter. It is totally a personal decision to hop on a cycle or go off-cycle. In the sport of bodybuilding, you have to get on the juice because there is no chance that any person can build a number of muscles that pro-bodybuilders do. I can name a few steroids like Trenbolone, GH, Aquaviron, etc which bodybuilders generally use. They use it to give themselves a larger-than-life look on the stage and to get that stage physique, steroids are necessary. And everyone standing on the competition stage is juiced to the gills. As a first-year learner, I don’t have 100% knowledge of morals and ethics, but I believe that the profession of bodybuilding requires the use of steroids and I think that from a bodybuilding standpoint and how much the industry has grown, it puts morals into a grey area. Whereas in athletics, it is completely unethical to use steroids as the organizations which regulate sports like boxing, MMA, has put a ban on steroids as it obviously gives an edge over other athletes and sanctions bans on people who use them in competitions. We all know how Lance Armstrong, a famous former cyclist fell from grace after his own steroid bust. In bodybuilding, it is illegal but the whole industry practically runs on the juice because, without it, it won’t bring in money to the sport. It is banned just on paper but everybody uses it in pro bodybuilding and there is no such regulation. The athletics industry does not practically run-on steroids, and that is the difference. After reading this article, I leave it up to you to decide whether steroid usage is ethical or not.