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Anabolic Steroids Experiences

Anabolic steroids & bodybuilding experiences

Sport latest threat: Form-fitting Genes

Sunday, January 23, 2005

By Kevin Van Valkerburg

Sometime in the near future, an athlete might walk into a lab and ask for an injection that will bring a world of possibility. Take this and hit home runs like Barry Bonds, the athlete would be told. Take it and fly around the track like Marion Jones. This might sound like another story about steroids, but it’s not. The topic is genetic doping.

Because it uses DNA to stimulate or block natural chemicals, it won’t show up in a blood or urine test. With billions of dollars at stake every year in sports and the lure of fame stronger than ever, gene doping is expected to be the next big issue for sport.

Experts in the field of genetic research predict it could happen in five or 10 years. Or sooner. I don’t think it would surprise any of us if tomorrow we picked up a newspaper and saw that (an athlete) had died of a stroke after getting involved with gene therapy, said Dr. Theodore Friedmann, director of the gene therapy program at the University of California at San Diego and considered to be the worlds top authority in the field.

Genetic doping has the potential to make a mockery of what is currently considered fair athletic competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency has formed a panel, led by Friedmann and it will meet next month, to study the issue and come up with methods for detection. There is no firm evidence right now that people are using genetic manipulation to enhance performance, he said, but there have been a number of studies done with mice and rats that suggest such a thing can be done.

Gene therapy is not a new concept by any means. Over the past 30 years, scientists have been making numerous breakthroughs. Techniques have been developed in rats in which a synthetic version of the gene that produces insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, can be used to spur muscle growth or repair at the cellular level.

IGF-1 normally occurs naturally in cells, and when it is injected directly into the muscles it has little effect. But scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Dr. Lee Sweeney, have developed a technique in which the gene can be carried into cells using a harmless virus. There the gene fuses with the cells DNA and causes the body to produce more IGF-1, a protein that helps rebuild muscles when they deteriorate.

In other studies, scientists have used similar techniques to block a protein, myostatin, that limits muscle-building in the body. With myostatin blocked, lab mice in studies developed twice the normal muscle mass. Such results have given hope to people with diseases like muscular dystrophy, in which muscles can not repair as fast as they deteriorate.

So far, IGF-1 has not been studied in any human clinical trials, but Wyeth Pharmaceuticals recently conducted the first human clinical trial with a myostatin inhibitor. What worries both scientists and anti-doping officials is the scope for abuse in the name of athletics, Friedmann said.

Dr. Steven Ungerleider, a prominent sports psychologist and the author of Faust Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine, said that as long as the science is out there, athletes will be willing to abuse it. And while Ungerleider says he believes it is unlikely there will be another situation like what happened in the 1970s and 1980s in East Germany (where the government was behind a doping scandal and cover-up that involved nearly 10,000 athletes) there are plenty of scientists working independently, with little or no oversight, on the next phase of performance enhancement.

Part of what will probably make genetic doping appealing to athletes is the difficulty of detection. In the case of IGF-1, because the synthetic gene activates natural chemicals that repair and build muscles, evidence of doping would be difficult to find. Detection might involve a magnetic resonance imaging scan or muscle biopsies, which would require inserting a large needle into the muscle.

You would need muscle biopsies done relatively close to competition, said Dr. Steven Roth, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland. How many athletes are going to agree to that? It is not feasible.

The issue of testing becomes even more complex because it crosses borders and requires cooperation from numerous authorities to be viable and credible. John Hoberman, the author of several books on athletic doping, including the forthcoming Testosterone Dreams, said that doping-control officers who travel around the globe to test athletes are often greeted by violence. I know stories of one doping officer who was attacked by a mob in the street, said Hoberman. It is a global problem that is going to require a global solution.

Hoberman also said that, eventually, society must come to terms with what exactly is performance enhancement and what level is acceptable. Athletic doping right now is taking place in a society where an entire range of performance-enhancing drugs have become ordinary, Hoberman said. The president and the attorney general are not out there saying that Botox is an outrage and Viagra is an outrage, and so there is a huge disconnect between how athletes are required to be drug-free and ordinary citizens are not.

Friedmann said genetic doping might force society to address the larger question of what sports should really be about. ‘A lot of us grew up with the very romantic view of sports, he said. Athletics is such an important part of society because it is about accomplishment against physical odds. Doping in general poses the questions of, What is sport? What do we want sport to be? Do we want it to be about athletic achievement or about pharmacology? We can all sit here and glorify a few more home runs, and it is terrific, but it’s not sport any longer.
posted by Frank Mori, Sunday, January 23, 2005 | link

Gene doping looms as next sports edge

Monday, January 17, 2005

Boost at cellular level is all but undetectable

Sometime in the near future, an athlete might walk into a lab and ask for an injection that, with the prick of the needle, will bring a world of possibility. Take this and hit home runs like Barry Bonds, the athlete would be told. Take it and fly around the track like Marion Jones.

This might sound like another story about steroids, back in the headlines after baseball announced Thursday that it was adopting a stricter testing policy amid calls for reform, but it's not. The topic is genetic doping. Because it uses DNA to stimulate or block natural chemicals - chemicals that make changes within the body at the cellular level - it won't show up in a blood or urine test.

With billions of dollars at stake every year in sports and the lure of fame stronger than ever, gene doping is expected to be the next major issue for sports to confront. Experts in the field of genetic research predict it could happen in five or 10 years. Or sooner.

"I don't think it would surprise any of us if tomorrow we picked up a newspaper and saw that [an athlete] had died of a stroke after getting involved with gene therapy," said Dr. Theodore Friedmann, director of the gene therapy program at the University of California at San Diego. He is considered by many to be the world's leading authority in the field.

Genetic doping has the potential to make a mockery of what is currently considered fair athletic competition.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has formed a panel to study the issue and come up with methods for detection. The panel of scientists, led by Friedmann, will meet for the first time next month.

"There's no firm evidence right now that people are using genetic manipulation to enhance performance," he said, "but there have been a number of studies done with animals like mice and rats that suggest that such a thing can be done."

Read the whole article at: baltimoresun.com - Gene doping looms as next sports edge
posted by Frank Mori, Monday, January 17, 2005 | link

Anabolic Steroid Use Should Be Legalized

Friday, January 14, 2005

The 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, proved to be one of the most exciting Olympic games of all time. World records fell in everyday of the 14-day event; in every sport ranging from shuttlecock to track and field, records fell like dominos. The most competitive sport in the 1988 Olympiad was the men's 100-meter dash, with a field consisting of the ten fastest men in the world, at the time. World record holder Ben Johnson, who shattered the world record by thirteen hundreds of a second a month earlier, and 1984 Olympic 100-meter dash champion, Carl Lewis, highlighted the field. The winner of this race would carry with him the title of being the Worlds Fastest Man.

As the competitors lined up at the starting line, they knew the race would be over in less than ten seconds. The gun sounds off and the start is clean. Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson are tied for the lead at the thirty-meter mark but the next seventy-meters would prove to be the most disappointing seventy-meters in Carl Lewis's life. After the thirty-meter mark, Ben Johnson pulled away from Carl Lewis and the rest of the field with little effort and crossed finish line first, winning the race by seven meters over Carl Lewis. Seven meters is an eternity in the 100-meter dash. Ben Johnson now had the title of World’s Fastest Man. Spires 2 Four days later that title and his medal would be stripped from him. The International Olympic Committee had found evidence that Ben Johnson had been using anabolic steroids, a substance banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), which are the two governing bodies for amateur athletics.

Ben Johnson was not only stripped of his medal but was indefinitely suspended from competing in track and field. He ran his fast times by using a banned substance but still it was a man that did it, not a machine. This is why steroids should be legalized in all athletic competition. Steroids, which are also referred to as anabolic – androgenic steroids, are drugs that are derived from the male hormone testosterone. Steroids promote muscle growth and lean body mass. Steroids have many medical uses. They are used to treat asthma, arthritis; Addison’s Disease, and certain skin ailments. Many athletes abuse steroids to boost their performance. This use and all non-medical use of steroids are illegal in the United States.

Though non-medical use of steroids is illegal in the United States, laws regulating steroid use are inadequate. Steroid testing procedures are also inadequate and easily cheated. “The word steroid calls to mind a 350 pound lineman who not so long ago weighed 275 pounds and two thirds of it was fat and now he is all muscle. True, football players depend on drugs a lot in their everyday life, but the real problem is in the Olympics. It is no secret that almost every Olympic athlete uses steroids in training sometime or another. Dozens of coaches and athletes that were interviewed by Sports Illustrated say that the Atlanta Olympics were a carnival of experiments in the use of Spires 3 performance enhancing drugs.” (“Over the Edge”, Sports Illustrated, April 14, 1997) “Athletes are a walking laboratory, and the Olympics have become a proving ground for scientists, chemists and unethical doctors,” says Doctor Robert Voy, director of drug testing for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) at the 1984 and ‘88 games. “The testers know that the drug gurus are smarter than they are. They know how to get under the radar. “The IOC (International Olympic Committee) hoped to fool athletes by brining in a new piece of equipment for testing.

The original machine done with a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, was replaced by a much newer and advanced tester, the high-resolution mass spectrometer that would supposedly be able to catch all athletes who had used steroids in the last two or three months. Unfortunately the two point five million dollar drug testing effort was in fact completely ineffective. Even if the IOC’s equipment were the cutting edge of technology, eliminating drugs from the Olympics would be no small challenge. “All athletes have to choose: Do I want to compete at a world-class level and take drugs, or do I want to compete at a club level and be clean,” says Keeps Koran, the editor of the Dutch edition of Runner’s World Magazine. (“Over the Edge,” Sports Illustrated, April 14, 1997) The days of an athlete simply turning in a bottle of someone else’s urine are over. The officials are required to watch the athlete urinate. Even that’s not foolproof: Cases have been reported of an athlete urinating before an event, inserting a catheter up his or her urethra, and using a turkey baster to squeeze someone else’s urine out. (“Over the Edge”, Sports Illustrated, April 14, 1997). Spires 4 In 1994 it was found that two million Americans or 0.5 percent of the adult population, said that they had used anabolic steroids, according to the National Institution on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Steroid use by adolescent boys has decreased slightly in the past seven years because of the wider availability of over the counter performance enhancing drugs but has doubled over the past seven years for adolescent girls and could be as high as 175,000 nationwide. “Why? More girls are competing in sports than ever before, and they have a strong incentive to seek any edge they can. Since 1972 the Federal Government has required colleges and universities to expand women’s athletic scholarships to reflect more closely the number of women athletes,” stated Christina Gorman’s article, “Girls on Steroids”, in the August 1998 issue of Time. In a 1995 poll (conducted by the IAAF) of 198 sprinters, swimmers, power-lifters and other assorted athletes, most of them U.S., were asked if they would take steroids with two guarantees:

  1. You will not be caught.
  2. You will win.

One hundred and ninety-five athletes said yes; three-said no. They were also asked if they would take steroids with two guarantees: 1) You would not get caught. 2) You will win every competition you enter for the next five years, and then you will die from the side affects of the substance. More than half of the athletes said yes. Spires 5 Throughout the world athletes depend on steroids more than ever.
There are many risks involved with taking steroids. The side effects of steroids coincide with its’ benefits. Some of the main side effects are trembling, severe acne, fluid retention, aching joints, high blood pressure, jaundice and liver tumors. Other side effects include: 1) For men: shrunken testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, difficulty or pain in urinating, and an enlarged prostate. 2) For women: growth of facial hair, changes or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deeper voice and smaller breasts. 3) For adolescents: premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty leading to stunted growth. Also, steroids can increase hostility and aggression. The steroid epidemic is much like the prohibition of alcohol in the United States, during the 1920’s. Alcohol consumption was up during the 1920’s, even though alcohol was banned. Prohibition gave alcohol the “forbidden fruit” stigma…much like steroids today. When prohibition was repealed alcohol consumption leveled off. Some experts debate that anabolic steroids are unnatural while scientists beg to differ, saying that anabolic steroids are just as natural as Gatorade and the use of Nautilus machines. Steroids are a device whose aim is to maximize performance.

It is in this writers belief that though there are many risks involved in the consumption of steroids, they are just as natural as the more accepted performance enhancing drugs and devices. Whether or not athletes are taking steroids, it is still human Spires 6 versus human in competition. When the human being is out of the picture in competition, that is the time to act.

posted by Frank Mori, Friday, January 14, 2005 | link

Muscle-Building DNA Viruses, AWESOME!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Mice, manipulating DNA and muscle-building viruses: The next big scam or the future of bodybuilding?
by Paul Cribb, B.H.Sci HMSAST Director of Research
Hot on the heels of the myostatin scam, more research into genetically enhanced muscle growth has caught the attention of athletes across the world. You may have read some reports in the media of research by Dr. H. Lee Sweeney and colleagues that have recently shown that genetic manipulation combined with resistance training can dramatically accelerate muscle growth.
Dr. Sweeney heads the Physiology department at the University of Pennsylvania. The main interest of these scientists is in muscle regeneration from injury and disease. As part of this current research study, these scientists investigated the effects of transferring growth-factor genes into muscle cells to accelerate muscle growth during exercise. And, they have been successful.[1]
Using recombinant DNA technology, the researchers created a piece of DNA that codes for Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1); the muscle growth stimulator. DNA is the genetic code the body uses to construct proteins within the body. Imbedded within our DNA is a code that creates every protein that the body needs, whether it is an enzyme for breaking down food, a component of muscle tissue or a hormone. Recombinant technology “re-combines” the components of DNA to produce a blueprint for a protein that the scientists may want to examine; in this case, the DNA code was for IGF-1. Despite the recent media interest, the research involving the insertion of new DNA into muscles was first published in 1998.[2]
Most bodybuilders are aware that IGF-1 is a growth factor that is essential to building muscle. Certain isotopes of IGF-1 actually remain “dormant” in muscle cells until the cell is “stimulated” (damaged) by high overload resistance training. Then, the active IGF-1 is “unlocked” and springs into action to establish new satellite cells that results in a bigger, thicker, stronger muscle fiber.
However, the fascinating kink in the story behind this research is the way the IGF-1 is “artificially” stimulated within the muscle cells of the mice. Getting the artificial DNA into the muscle cells is the stuff science-fiction writer’s dream of.
The IGF-1 DNA is actually placed inside the shell of an artificial virus. This virus is used to infect the muscle cells; it attaches to the surface of the cell and deposits its DNA into the inner membrane, pretty much the same way a normal virus works. The natural defense systems within the cell cannot distinguish one piece of DNA from another, so the IGF-1-stimulating DNA is incorporated into the protein structure. The artificial virus (containing the IGF-1-DNA) does not contain any other information, only the blueprint for IGF-1 production. Once imbedded into proteins within the cell, the IGF-1-containing DNA tricks the cell into producing the components necessary for bioactive IGF-1.
In this study, after eight weeks the mice that were subjected to resistance exercise showed a 23.3% increase in muscle mass, whereas the mice treated with the artificially induced IGF-I showed a 14.8% increase in muscle mass, without performing exercise. However, the combination of resistance training and treatment with the virus containing IGF-1 DNA produced double the rate of muscle growth as compared to either treatment alone. The findings were published in the March issue this year of Journal of Applied Physiology and the implications from these results make the myostatin research look puny.
Most mammals, including mice and men, lose up to a third of their muscle mass and strength as they age. It is not clear why this happens, but evidence suggests that declines in the production and activity of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factors such as IGF-1. Aside from making super mice, this research would essentially cure many degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Invalids would literally rise from their wheelchairs and walk. The potential applications are staggering, and positive results have already been documented in dystrophic mice. The artificially induced IGF-1 procedure completely reversed this fatal wasting disease.[3]
Could the same process be used to assist elite athletes to achieve greater strength with less training? Probably. The potential for abuse is right there alongside the potential for good. Additionally, by directly infecting the muscle, there would be no indication or proof that the athlete is utilizing technology; it would not be detectable with the current blood or urine analyses. The only possible means to detect this sort of drug abuse lay in DNA testing. Based on this research it would still have to be specific to the muscle (or group) used in a particular sport. Essentially, this all adds up to one big nightmare for officials and organizations that sanction drug-tested sporting events.
However, these genetic alterations do have a down side. The subsequent growth of muscle tissue from the recombinant DNA IGF-1 treatment is only region specific. The impact of one portion of the body growing at a vastly different rate to other segments is anyone’s guess. Long term consequences of this gene therapy are also hampered by the fact that mice have a relatively short life span. Therefore, how the human body would react to artificially injected genes, is best left up to the imagination of Steven Spielberg’s special effects crew. Particularly, the potential impact on the immune system and the body’s own intricate hormonal cascade is mind boggling.
There is no doubt that some form of this genetic therapy will be the savior of thousands of clinically ill people in the near future. However, long before this technology is available on the black market, I suspect a slew of bogus “DNA IGF-1-activating” supplements are going to flood the retail sports supplement market, and it will be done in much the same unscrupulous manner as the myostatin blockers. And we all know how effective myostatin-blockers turned out to be!
The bodybuilding supplement market place is probably going to be avalanched with a pile of bogus, crap DNA-IGF-1-activating herbal extracts, pills and protein powders. Just like the myostatin blockers, these supplements will be marketed with a ton of thick, slick scientific spin-doctoring as “the holy grail” of muscle gains. However, now you’ve got the real facts, before the scam has even started. Consumers beware, you have been warned.
  1. Lee, Sukho, Elisabeth R. Barton, H. Lee Sweeney, and Roger P. Farrar. Viral expression of insulin-like growth factor-I enhances. muscle hypertrophy in resistance-trained rats. J Appl Physiol 96: 1097–1104, 2004.
  2. Barton-Davis ER, Shoturma DI, Musaro A, Rosenthal N, and Sweeney HL. Viral mediated expression of insulin-like growth factor I blocks the aging-related loss of skeletal muscle function. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95: 15603-15607, 1998
  3. Barton ER, Morris L, Musaro A, Rosenthal N, and Sweeney HL. Muscle-specific expression of insulin-like growth factor I counters muscle decline in mdx mice. J Cell Biol 157: 137-148, 2002.
posted by Frank Mori, Saturday, January 08, 2005 | link

Are steroids as bad as we think they are?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

By Drake Bennett

IT MAY NOT HAVE been the most substantive line in President Bush's State of the Union address last January, but it had to be the least controversial. "The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous," he intoned. "And it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character."

This week it looked like Major League Baseball was finally falling into line. The immediate impetus, of course, was not a dusty presidential applause line but grand jury testimony by Barry Bonds, the game's biggest star, in which, as reported in The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday, Dec. 3, he admitted to taking anabolic steroids -- unwittingly, he insisted. While this came as a shock to no one who follows baseball, the resulting blast of outrage has put the baseball players' union, long opposed to meaningful drug testing, on the defensive. By last Sunday, Sen. John McCain was threatening to introduce legislation to toughen Major League drug testing if that's what it took. By Friday the president had reiterated his own demand. Throughout the week, the league and the players' union were at work on the outlines of a tougher testing regime.

But it's unclear just how wide the indignation spreads. Far from alienating fans, the steroid scandal unfolded during the course of a season of record baseball attendance. And a New York Times poll a year ago found that, among those under the age of 30, 41 percent didn't have the slightest problem with the use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional athletes.

Such nonchalance may be unsettling. Yet according to a few doctors and bioethicists, it's also rational. The concern over steroids -- and performance-enhancing drugs in general -- is misplaced, they argue. According to Adrian Dobs, an endocrinologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for most steroid users the likelihood of "something terrible or catastrophic" happening is "probably pretty low." Moreover, argues Norman Fost, a pediatrician and head of the University of Wisconsin's bioethics program, "the claim that there's something immoral about using these drugs is based on very sloppy thinking or simple hypocrisy."

Needless to say, such arguments are met with everything from bemusement to exasperation by many doctors and policy makers. But thinkers like Fost (perhaps the most visible of the steroid skeptics) dismiss their critics as hysterics, pointing not only to the scant evidence of health risks, but the history of similarly controversial innovations in sport and the distorted way in which we tend to look at the risks athletes face. So are these drugs really so dangerous? And does using them really amount to cheating?
Read the whole article at: Boston.com
posted by Frank Mori, Saturday, January 01, 2005 | link