ACSM submits testimony for senate hearing on steroid abuse

On Tuesday, July 13, 2004, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotic Control of the United States Senate began a hearing on the abuse of anabolic steroids and their precursors by adolescent athletes.

The purpose of the hearing is to highlight the easy availability, wide spread abuse, and inherent dangers of performance-enhancing drugs to adolescent athletes. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was invited to submit, for the record, a written statement. That statement follows:

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science organization and is widely regarded as the world leader in the field. More than 20,000 members in some 80 countries worldwide advance and integrate scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. ACSM endeavors to increase sports participation as well as to ensure sports safety, and to promote physical activity as an important strategy to address the global pandemic of rising rates of obesity and related chronic diseases attributable to inactive lifestyles.

ACSM has a decades-long history of strong opposition to the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in sports or in recreational settings. Over the years, ACSM has published many authoritative scientific statements on this topic. These statements include the official ACSM Position Stand: The Use of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids in Sports. The main points of ACSM's official position on the use of anabolic steroids are summarized as follows:

  • The use of steroids by athletes is contrary to the rules and ethical principles of athletic competition as set forth by many sports governing bodies. The American College of Sports Medicine supports these ethical principles and deplores the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids by athletes.

  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids in the presence of an adequate diet can contribute to increases in body weight and lean body mass.

  • The gains in muscular strength achieved through steroid use at doses beyond those utilized in clinical medicine improve performance and seem to increase aerobic power or capacity for muscular exercise, giving an unfair advantage to those who are willing to risk the potential side effects to achieve gains in athletic performance.

  • Steroids have been associated with adverse effects on the liver, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and psychological status in therapeutic trials and in limited research on athletes.

    ACSM recognizes that the use of drugs to enhance strength and endurance has been observed for thousands of years. Today, many individuals, including adolescents, continue to employ a variety of drugs, such as anabolic steroids, to improve their athletic performance and appearance. The appetite for these drugs has been created predominantly by our societal fixations on winning and physical appearance. There are physiological concerns associated with steroid use, however, including drug dependence and increased aggression.

    Perhaps most alarming are the severe health risks associated with steroid use and abuse. These have been well-documented in the medical literature and are a function of the specific steroid used, the dose and duration of use, as well as the route of administration.

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