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What are Designer Steroids?

By B. Schreiber
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Designer steroids are anabolic steroids or other steroid-like performance-enhancing drugs designed to be undetectable in drug testing. Although anabolic steroids are banned in most athletic organizations and contests worldwide, some athletes have nevertheless sought ways around the bans. Anabolic steroids mimic the effect of male sex hormones on the body, and whether someone is using them can usually be determined by blood or urine tests. Athletes looking for the performance-enhancing benefits of steroids, without being caught by testing, have created a demand for undetectable steroids. This has led some chemists and scientists to research and produce synthetic designer steroids for sale.

Anabolic steroids, which are commonly just called steroids, work by exhibiting the same properties as male hormones, which are called androgens. Androgens include testosterone, which men have more of than women. These hormones are one reason men usually have more muscle mass, weigh more, and have male sexual characteristics. Supplemental and synthetic steroids can have the same effect, increasing muscle size and decreasing the training time needed to improve athletic performance. Steroids are widely banned because of the unfair advantage they give to athletes who use them, whatever the sport or athletic event might be. Not surprisingly, banning steroids has not led all athletes to give up trying to find ways around the bans, leading to the proliferation of designer steroids.

Due to the complexity of the work involved, these steroids are manufactured by people with the advanced chemical knowledge necessary to create compounds similar to known steroids. The compounds must be different enough from those recognized by the testing process to ensure they can be taken secretly. They must also be close enough to actual sex hormones for them to have an anabolic effect. Those involved in creating steroids walk a fine line and work continuously as testing becomes available for more and more steroid formulas.

Designer steroids are potentially very dangerous because they are unlikely to have ever been tested to ensure their safety. Athletes who use these steroids are essentially offering themselves as test subjects for drugs that could have unknown consequences. Also, because they are made secretly, there is no way to be sure the compounds themselves are not harmful, or that they have not been adulterated with some other dangerous substance. Even assuming the drugs work as intended, anabolic steroids can have harmful effects on the body, including the risk of infertility and cardiovascular damage. Depending on the country, they also may be illegal.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Jul 08, 2013

@irontoenail - Forget the scientists, I could never understand why someone would take this kind of drug. Even school children know about steroids and how they can affect everything from your brain to your genitals.

I just don't think I've ever wanted to win anything that badly. And even if you do win, how can you feel good about it? It wasn't really you who beat the competition, it was the steroids.

By irontoenail — On Jul 07, 2013

@Iluviaporos - I'll tell you exactly why they do it and it comes down to one word. Money. No matter how much a researcher is paid, they can always make more money doing this kind of illegal work. The best body building steroids are worth huge amounts of money and anyone who can develop them has basically made his fortune.

Plus, they can probably tell themselves that they aren't really doing that much harm. It's not like they are making addictive drugs or killing people (usually). They are just giving sportspeople a little helping hand.

By lluviaporos — On Jul 06, 2013

I've never been able to understand who is undertaking this kind of ridiculous arms race. I mean, you'd have to have very advanced knowledge in chemistry and human biology, which means that you could probably get an excellent job somewhere, doing decent work for the advancement of humankind, rather than working to make it easier for cheaters to cheat.

It's not like top researchers are paid pennies or anything, and anyone who is working on steroids could also be working on helping to treat cancer or childhood illnesses. I just don't understand what would make someone choose to make illegal steroids instead.

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