So what does the future hold for steroids? Things are changing – and not for the better. Davies sounds a warning. ‘The more sophisticated prescription drugs such as growth hormones and insulin are now becoming a feature of the bodybuilder’s armoury. These have proved to be very effective in combination, resulting in significant muscle gains. We already have evidence of the DNA from muscular people being injected into less muscular individuals with positive results. These practices will be difficult to detect and offer an unfair advantage to an athlete who’s prepared to cheat.’
McVeigh agrees, and says he’s noticed another worrying trend. ‘We’re seeing steroid abusers taking more drugs to combat the side effects, such as Tamoxifen, the cancer drug, which can be used to prevent breast tissue growth. But if your body is freaking out, the trick is to stop taking the drug that’s causing the side effects in the first place, not to load it with more chemicals. The more crap you take, the more your body will suffer. The good news is most of the side effects of anabolic steroids are reversible.’
But other experts remain pessimistic. Shapiro has the last word. ‘I hope that with more education, we’ll see decreased use. But the male body-beautiful culture shows no signs of losing pace and as long as that stays, a product that promises something for nothing isn’t going to go away – no matter what the risks.’
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