There is a maxim in police work that goes; behind every crime, there is a motive. So it is with bodybuilding and most other sports. Everyone can remember Lee Haney’s, Dorian Yates’, and Ronnie Coleman’s string of Mr. Olympia victories, but try naming who placed second to these three great bodybuilders each year.
At the professional and top amateur sports level, the prime motive for intense training is the desire to be number one. The second major reason is greed. Athletic success can be transformed into a financial bonanza via endorsements, guest appearances, and professional sports contracts. Given the potential rewards athletic success can bring, it should not come as a surprise that some athletes might choose to shift the odds more in their favor. The following are some of the more common (both successful and unsuccessful) methods used by athletes to beat anabolic steroid tests.
In a never-ending quest by athletes to find a method to pass a drug test, the use of blocking agents has become a well-traveled route. Blocking agents such as alpha gpc growth hormone are drugs that athletes “believe” will allow them to use anabolic steroids right up to the time of competition. The word “believe” is emphasized because the effectiveness of blocking agents is more myth than reality.
To use an example, let us look at the drug, Probenecid, which was initially developed to slow the body’s rate of excretion of the antibiotic penicillin. Probenecid has also been shown to slow the rate of excretion of the class of drugs called keto-steroids. Upon hearing this, many athletes assumed that Probenecid would also slow the rate of excretion of anabolic steroids. Probenecid, however, is not very effective at doing this, and even if it was, it is on the banned substances list of most sports federations and is easily detected in a drug test.
Diuretics are used to dilute the urine by increasing the excretion of water. Some bodybuilders have used diuretics to speed up the excretion of all drugs in their systems. To counteract this, drug testers employ a technique known as the specific gravity test. Testers compare the weight of a substance to the weight of an equal volume of water, which has a specific gravity of one. If an athlete dilutes his/her urine, the specific gravity will be much lower than normal. There is, however, some controversy as to what range is acceptable as a normal specific gravity value for urine. As with blocking agents, most sports federations have added diuretics to their list of banned substances. Diuretics are a poor way to beat anabolic steroid tests.
Another method of cheating is the substitution of a non-drug user’s “clean” urine for the athlete’s own. A reported method used by some female bodybuilders and other athletes is to conceal a condom filled with “clean” urine in the vagina. When the athlete is called upon to produce a sample, a quick jab with a fingernail breaks the condom and releases the “clean” urine sample. To prevent this sleight of hand by athletes, officials now implement close monitoring.
This is an extreme method of substitution and trying to beat anabolic steroid tests. By using a catheter (a long thin rubber tube) that passes through the urethra to the bladder, an athlete can empty his/her own bladder and refill it with “clean” urine. If this procedure is done improperly it can result in serious infection, hemorrhage, and/or rupture of the bladder. There is an ironic aspect to this procedure. Because of the sensitivity of drug tests, the athlete may still be caught. When the athlete empties his/her bladder, there is still enough fluid adhering to the walls of the bladder to contaminate the “clean” urine. Furthermore, the athlete’s kidneys are constantly filtering the blood, and hence excreting urine into the bladder, adding another source of contamination.
CYCLING ANABOLIC STEROIDS AND RETIREMENT
Anabolic steroids are training drugs. They are not stimulants and don’t offer any advantage during or just before a competition. Most bodybuilders are careful to confine their steroid use to the off-season. This ensures that the benefits of anabolic steroids can be exploited without the risk of being caught. One way sports federations deal with this is to have random drug testing throughout the year. But this is very expensive and can be easily defeated.
Some athletes avoid random drug tests by training in other countries. Athletes who get homesick have another option, early retirement. While this means a loss of funding, the athlete can still train on drugs, and then make a comeback. An athlete can, for example, retire after one Olympiad, use drugs and train for the next three years, and then come out of retirement in time to make the team for the next Olympiad, without ever being drug tested.
Another method sports organizations have to combat drug use in the off-season is the testosterone to epitestosterone ratio. This drug test was considered to be very effective because it could detect the use of anabolic steroids, long after the drug was out of the athlete’s system. Athletes, however, have come up with an effective countermeasure to anabolic steroid tests of this type.
The testosterone to epitestosterone ratio has been one of the most effective drug tests available since 1982. Athletes, however, discovered a simple countermeasure that completely invalidates this test. Since anabolic steroid use raises the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, all an athlete has to do is inject pure epitestosterone, and the ratio can once again be brought back to 1:1. It is claimed that injections within an hour of a drug test can produce a negative result.
As mentioned earlier, there is no exact elimination time for any particular steroid. Many factors influence the rate of excretion of steroids from the user’s system. For example, if an athlete is using vitamin and/or mineral preparations, sun-tanning pills, or even some forms of over-the-counter medications, the ability of the liver to process steroids may be inhibited. Thus, a longer time for clearance may be needed. Such important factors as method of administration, location of the injection site, the type of steroids used, duration of use, body-fat level, amount of water in the body, and dosage used, all play important roles in determining the clearance time. There is one guaranteed method for athletes to pass anabolic steroid tests; obey the rules of the competition, and stay drug-free.