(Investigator 166, 2016 January)

Ergogenic aids in the form of pills or potions are often sought by athletes in the hope that they will improve their performance and turn them into champions.

Popular, albeit illegal, are androgenic-anabolic steroids, and common drugs such as Winstrol, Anavar, Nilevar, Durabolin and Methyltestosterone.

There are many fallacies associated with these, including the belief that they can help build bigger muscles and enhance athletic performance.

In 1977, the American College of Sports Medicine published a position paper stating that anabolic steroids do not significantly improve muscular strength and body mass. Although these gains were achieved through high-intensity exercise and proper diet, the organisation recognised that anabolic-steroids may help in some individuals. However, they were not safe.

Complications and permanent damage can result from large doses of steroids such as testicular atrophy, pituitary inhibition, prostate enlargement, fluid retention, high blood pressure, kidney damage, acne, fibrosis of the liver, breast enlargement (in both sexes), and unwanted hair growth (in women). Some athletes have also died as a result of steroid use.


American Medical Association, 1993, Reader's Guide to Alternative Health Methods, American Medical Association.

Barrett, S. & Herbert, V. 1994, The Vitamin Pushers, Barrett, S. & Jarvis W.J. (Eds) 1993, The Health Robbers, Prometheus Books.

Barrett, Jarvis, Kroger and London. Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions. Brown and Benchmark.

From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc