Are you aware of the rising use of steriods by our young athletes?

Recently our Zimbabwe U20 rugby side was stripped of all their results for 2012, 2011 and 2010 Junior World Cup Trophy Championships. The ZRU – Zimbabwe Rugby Union will also be penalized – this may be a financial penalty but as yet the ZRU has not been advised.

Details can be found at

Rugby is not the only sport affected either.

Steroidal abuse is increasing in our youth

What are the Effects of Steroid Abuse?

Athletes use the anabolic/androgenic steroid drugs to help build muscle tissue and increase body mass. These drugs are synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male hormones. However, long-term steroid use can have some very serious side effects many of which may be permanent. Common names for these drugs are “roids”, “juice”, “hype” or “pump”.

Aggression and other psychiatric problems are side effects of these steroids. Users often say that they feel good about themselves while on steroids, but extreme mood swings can also occur, including manic-like symptoms and anger (“roid rage”) that may lead to violence. Some users may suffer from paranoia, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

Steroid abuse may lead to serious, even irreversible, health problems. Some of the body functions that can be seriously compromised are the kidney, which can fail or be severely impaired, the liver may be damaged and cardiovascular problems include enlargement of the heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol all of which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack (even in young people).

Very frequently steroid use causes severe acne and fluid retention. Men may have shrinkage of the testicles (testicular atrophy) and a reduced sperm count or infertility along with baldness, development of breasts and an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Women may grow facial hair and get male-pattern baldness. There can be changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris and deepening of the voice.

Adolescents will have stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated changes associated with puberty including the risk of not reaching expected height if steroid use precedes the typical adolescent growth spurt.

Furthermore people who inject steroids run the added risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis through less than hygienic and safe use of needles.

People who inject steroids run the added risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS

Steroidal drugs are not the only drugs abused in sport and the World Anti-Doping Agency recently published an updated list which can be found on the internet. Alternatively we at The Medicine Chest have ready access to the South African specific lists which detail the drugs we are familiar with in this part of the world. We are always happy to advise you to the best of our ability.

Let us all promote the World Anti-doping slogan “Play True” value in our young people.

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