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Testosterone In Sports

This entry was posted on January 4, 2017 by John Romano.



Testosterone use in sports to increase performance was a fairly modern invention. However, the idea to increase performance using a variety of substances far predates testosterone use in sports. In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games was held in Athens, Greece. The very next thing that happened was that the participating athletes consumed various substances to increase their performance.  Employing a variety of methods, save for game fixing, there is evidence that they gorged themselves on meat - not a normal dietary staple of the Greeks - and experimented with herbal extracts, wine potions, used hallucinogens and ate animal hearts and testicles in search of increased performance. But, testosterone in sports was still centuries away....


In 100 AD. Chariot racers fed their horses substances such as hydromel (an alcoholic beverage made from honey) to make them run faster.  Gladiators used various hallucinogens and stimulants, such as strychnine, to stave off fatigue and injury and to improve the intensity of their performance. Late 19th century, French cyclists and lacrosse players drank wine and coca leaves to fight fatigue and hunger. In 1904, Olympic marathon runner, Thomas Hicks, used a mixture of brandy and strychnine to try to boost his performance and nearly died. Mixtures of strychnine, heroin, cocaine, and caffeine were used widely by athletes of the era, and each team developed its own unique secret formulas. This was common practice until heroin and cocaine became available only by prescription in the 1920s.


Testosterone in sports didn't materialize until the 1940 in Germany. According to historical and anecdotal accounts, the Nazis tested testosterone on prisoners, Gestapos and even Hitler himself was noted to have used testosterone. (According to his physician, Hitler's mental state toward the end of his life exhibited characteristics that some scientists associate with heavy steroid use: mania, acute paranoid psychoses, overly aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal ideology).  During this period, testosterone and its analogs were used by German soldiers to promote aggressiveness and physical strength. Subsequently, the idea was hatched to employ testosterone in sports. Officially known as State Plan 14.25, the East Germans conducted a decades-long program of coercive administration and distribution of testosterone and other steroids to increase performance of its elite athletes to bolster the Communists State’s prestige by winning Olympic medals. The East Germans had been such pioneers in doping that they were considered to be the inventor of testosterone use in sports.


So good were the results of the East Germans, the rest of the world had followed suit. By the 1960's, the genie was so far out of the bottle that there was no going back, despite bans and laws attempting to prevent the use of testosterone in sports. Today, it is almost impossible to compete in elite sports without contending with the use of testosterone and other steroids. Testosterone in sports is here to stay. Virtually every elite athlete competing today is faced with the use of testosterone in sports. They either have to try to employ training methods to over run those using performance enhancing drugs, or find a way to use them and not get caught. Either way, testosterone use in sports is so prolific and wide spread that a well known and respected authority of performance enhancement recently stated that, “the only athletes not using testosterone in sports are those at the end of the pack, and even among them, performance enhancing drugs are more than likely prevalent.”

  • Posted on January 4, 2017

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