Steroid Use in Sports – Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects


None of us like to think that our sporting heroes and icons might be cheating in any way, or that their accomplishments are not entirely their own. If you have idolized a baseball player or football star and had posters on your wall when you were just a little kid, then it can be devastating to find out that they’ve been using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

Apart from anything else, this takes away their relatability. Now you can no longer think: ‘if I train hard enough, I might too get to that point one day’. Instead, you’re faced with the reality that you will probably never grow to that kind of size.

But unfortunately, steroids are a fact of life in sports and these days many people have come out as saying that they used them. No sport is quite safe it would seem, with stars from baseball, football, wrestling and every other walk of life being caught red handed.

And the unfortunate side effect of this is that we find ourselves questioning everyone when it comes to steroid use. Even people who have done nothing to put them on the watch list are still being questioned by us.

So what we need to know is how we can tell if our favorite stars might be using steroids. What are the signs and symptoms that an athlete may be getting a little extra ‘chemical help’?

Weight Gain

Of course one of the most obvious signs is that the athlete suddenly increases their muscle mass and packs on a lot of extra weight. Obviously this can happen without the use of steroids so the big ‘tell’ is if the additional weight comes on very quickly after the athlete has been fairly consistent in the past.


Another sign is vascularity. Steroids don’t only lead to sudden muscle mass, they also cause lean gains and enhance fat loss. If you notice the athlete looking bigger but also more ripped, this is a strong sign.

Risk Factors

Another thing to consider is the ‘risk factors’ surrounding a given athlete. In other words, are they the sort that might be driven to use steroids?

Older athletes, for example, will sometimes turn to performance enhancers in order to keep up with their younger competitors. Likewise, an athlete might choose to use steroids if their teammates have been using them. So if someone has recently been found out, it might be time to take a closer look at the competitors.

Consider too the culture of the sport – nearly all bodybuilders use steroids whereas there’s not much call for it in gold!

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