Cite this article

NIDA. (2013, July 24). Olympians and Steroids. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
July 24 2013
Photo of an athlete draped in an American flag
Photo credit: Gustavo Fadel /

The lure of Olympic Gold is strong among amateur athletes all over the world. People toil from childhood for the chance to stand atop the podium and hear their national anthem playing in their honor. Unfortunately, the drive to win a medal leads some athletes to use illegal substances to enhance their performance. SBB has talked about doping, or abusing steroids, in cycling and baseball—but now, American track and field Olympians are under fire.

In mid-July, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay tested positive for banned drugs, according to a drug test conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He has not said what he tested positive for and expects his second sample test results to clear his name. It is believed [link removed; article does not exist anymore] that he received “anti-aging” treatment—a therapy that uses hormones such as testosterone and human growth hormone—which may have led to the positive test. Such treatments are banned by the Olympics.

Gay isn’t the only Olympian facing this problem. In spring 2013, Jamaica suspended several athletes, including sprinter Asafa Powell, former 100-meter record holder; Veronica Campbell-Brown, a three-time gold medalist in the 200-meter; and Sherone Simpson, 4x100 relay gold medalist, for testing positive for banned substances.

Steroids: Not Worth It

Because of the positive test, Gay withdrew from the World Championships taking place in August. Adidas, his sponsor since 2005, also ended its relationship with Gay. He could be suspended from competing for 2 years.

It would be a big loss for the American Olympic team. Gay is America’s fastest 100-meter male sprinter, having won the 100-meter and 200-meter races in the U.S. Championships in June 2013.

Steroid abuse doesn’t just end with ruined careers and loss of credibility because of cheating. Abusing steroids can cause serious health effects, such as kidney and liver damage; enlargement of the heart and high blood pressure; and changes in blood cholesterol leading to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young people.

Check out SBB’s interview with 1996 Olympic gold medalist gymnast Kerri Strug and learn how she won the gold without abusing steroids.

What Do You Think?

Why do you think some athletes choose to abuse steroids? What do you think is more important—winning or integrity? Let us know in comments.