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Steroid Stigma

Right then, time to dabble in some controversy.
Now before I start I need to say that I neither condone nor condemn the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS).

It seems a lot of people have very strong opinions about steroids, most of which having no background in any kind of science or biological field however. We are taught, by the media and by doctors and healthcare professionals that steroids are bad. OK, fair point to an extent, they do have health risks (what doesn’t?) although I believe these are vastly over exaggerated and for the most part can be minimized (I won’t say prevented because this simply is not the case, they do pose a health risk to some degree).

Now a lot of people are under the misconception that steroids make you big, and that’s that. Well, yes AAS do promote protein synthesis and therefore hypertrophy (muscle growth), however that’s only one trait of AAS and it doesn’t work at the level people assume. You cannot or will not turn into Arnie after running a mild cycle of testosterone, that is just absurd.

I’m gonna hit you all with some harsh truths here so if you’re easily offended then you might as well go. Most, if not all your sporting idols, heroes and professional athletes are/were on steroids and/or other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The use of PEDs is not a new thing, in fact it’s quite rampant through history. The great Norse berserkers supposedly used bufotenin stimulants, ancient Greeks used hallucinogenic mushrooms to enhance performance, Roman gladiators were given stimulants, South American Indians used cocoa leaves to increase endurance and during the 19th century drugs such as caffeine, nitro-glycerin, cocaine, heroin, ether, alcohol and opium  were used by cyclists, runners and swimmers to gain a competitive edge. Nowadays when you mention steroids most people think of bodybuilders, but did any of you honestly consider that Lance Armstrong was on a cocktail of steroids and other PEDs? I highly doubt it.

And you know what? So what?!

So what if athletes take steroids? Heck, I bet a lot of the blokes at you local gym are on gear. I know a lot of dudes personally that take gear, some have obvious telltale characteristics, others according to internet standards are just “normal” (while in actual fact they have pretty solid physiques and/or lifts) and others have very unimpressive physiques/lifts and you definitely wouldn’t assume they were using anything. Think about this, athletes make money playing sport. Generally athletes make a lot of money or they’re undoubtedly passionate about their sport (think more Olympics here). Now if someone said to me that in order to keep on making millions or if I truly wanted to pursue my dream of becoming the best in the world at my particular sport I’d have to take some drugs to say level the competition, then shit I’m gonna do it! It’s a no brainer, and anyone sat there disagreeing is either lying to themselves or is pretty unambitious. I referenced something similar to this before in my article here about Goldman’s dilemma.

Steroids do not make the athlete, they do not make you a winner or a champion. There are studies that show the use of AAS can/does increase muscle mass without training, however this does not mean that you can slack off with your training while using steroids. Sure you have a wider margin of error, you can get more things “wrong” essentially but all in all you still need to put the work in. Now I’m sorry to say guys that ultimately your athletic potential is all governed by your genetics. This means how well you respond to training, how well you recover, your overall potential and how well you respond to drugs and there really isn’t anything you can do to change your genetics. Deal with it.

You see these idiots spouting all kinds of crap on forums and across the internet. They’ll see a photo of an athlete performing some impressive feat or an image of a huge bodybuilder and immediately comment “steroids!”. Well congratulations son, captain obvious strikes again, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve voiced your opinion and now everyone can see what an insecure moron you are *applause*. These are the same people that harness a plethora of excuses and reasons to why they’re better than anyone on steroids, like they really have this superiority complex because they’re drug free but unimpressive. Here are a few of the bullshit arguments I’ve come across;

Steroids are cheating! – Yeah sure, they’re against the rules but who hasn’t broken the rules before? And if everyone else is doing the same thing then there really is no unfair advantage.

I could do that if I took steroids and got paid to train – No, no you couldn’t. Shut up.

It’s not impressive because they aren’t natural – Paha what? No matter how you look at it strength is strength. Drug free or not you need to put some serious work in to play at the elite level.

Oh that’s just so unhealthy, think about what it’s doing to you! – I’ve briefly mentioned that steroids do pose health risks (I’ll dive deeper into that in another article) but it’s funny that the people usually spouting this crap are the ones sat on the couch drinking liters of coke and chowing down on a family bucket (bear in mind I have no issues eating an entire family bucket).


People seem to love making excuses and casting blames for their own shortcomings. As I said at the beginning I neither condone nor condemn the use of steroids. If you’re a grown adult and you’ve paid your dues and you want to take steroids then by all means do so at your own risk, and if you don’t then don’t. Just don’t go spouting shit about being superior because you’re “natty” and alternately don’t try imposing steroids on other people.

Like I mentioned before I know a lot of guys on steroids who no one would look at twice and think they were, because they look average, and this is because they haven’t paid their dues. Anyone who jumps on steroids as soon as they begin training is a dick. Anyone who runs oral only cycles is a dick, if you’re scared of needles then you have no business taking steroids. Anyone running a cycle to get “cut up for the beach” is a dick. Anyone who hasn’t put the work in drug free for at least 3 years, if not longer is you guessed it, a dick. And I know all of these types people.

So you need to be asking yourself why. Why do steroids offend you so much? Have you done your research (properly) or are you basing everything you know off of hearsay and stupid newspaper articles and fear mongering?

Why are you bothered if someone gains an advantage from steroid use, when I’m sure you wouldn’t care if it was a new amazing supplement? The problem with steroids is that they work, unlike most supplements. So why is it no one has an issue with an athlete gaining a supposed advantage via supplements rather than through PED use? Is it because supplements are legal? If so you’re definitely deluded thinking 99% of supplements out there are going to do anything for you, let alone give you a competitive edge.
Why are you under the impression that “natural” is better? Cos shit naturally we shouldn’t be living to the ages we can these days.
Why does it offend you so much if an athlete takes steroids? Is it because you think it’s cheating?
Would your opinion change if steroids were legal?
Do you think anyone cares about your BS comments on social media?
Just ask yourself these questions.

I do have an issue with steroids mind. Not so much steroids but athletes on steroids that promote these bullshit supplements and
gimmicky products. Sponsored athletes that promote these useless crappy products claiming they helped them achieve X or Y annoy me, a lot. I can understand lying about steroid use to the media, due to the stigma and in most cases the legal implications, but scamming the unaware is just low. Additionally the worst type of endorsers or promoters are the ones that have the cheek to suggest that people just don’t work hard enough, that is a gross insult to a lot of people. Steroids aren’t magic, but they do provide significant advantages that trump any drug free lifters potential. So stating that (mainly drug free) guys who bust their ass aren’t training hard enough or being dedicated enough is just insulting.

So there you have it, my personal opinion on the whole steroid stigma and demonization. Note this is simply my opinion and you are free to either agree or disagree.

Lift Strong and Conquer!



author: Louis Whenlock

Hi I’m Louis, a passionate freelance Personal Trainer on a mission to cut through the BS and gimmicks of the fitness world and deliver honest, hard earned results to my clients.