In a new study discussed at the American Physiological Society, a Swedish group found that the use of anabolic steroids produced long lasting enhancement of the muscle cells. (The Science Blog; Scientific American)
A team of researchers has examined the impact of anabolic steroid use on power lifters years after the athletes had ceased to take the drugs. The researchers found that while physical traces of the drug no longer remained, changes in the shoulder and quadriceps still gave lifters an advantage years later.
The research was conducted by Anders Eriksson and Lars-Eric Thornell, Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section conducted the study for Anatomy, Umea University, Umea, Sweden; Christer Malm, Umeå University and Winternet and Patrik Bonnerud, Department of Health Science, Section for Medical Science, Lulea University of Technology, Lulea, Sweden; and Fawzi Kadi, Department of Physical Education and Health, Orebro University, Orebro, Sweden.
The researchers ascertained 3 subject groups: power lifters, power lifters currently using the juice, and power lifters who used steroids in the past but abstained now. The muscle fiber and muscle groups examined:
For power lifters, type IIB fiber, the most powerful, is most frequently used. The use of anabolic steroids can add more nuclei to the muscle, and enhance muscle fiber size.
The researchers examined data in two muscles: the vastus lateralis, found in the quadriceps, and the trapezius, a part of the shoulder-neck muscle. Each muscle is key to power lifting.
The results were startling:
The researchers found that several years after anabolic steroid withdrawal, and with no or low current strength-training, the muscle fiber area intensity, the number of nuclei per fiber in the quadriceps was still comparable to that of athletes that were currently performing high intensity strength-training. They also discovered that the shoulder-neck fiber areas were comparable to high-intensity trained athletes and the number of nuclei per fiber was even higher than found in the current steroid-using group.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Eriksson, ”It is possible that the high number of nuclei we found in the muscle might be beneficial for an athlete who continues or resumes strength training because increased myonuclei opens up the possibility of increasing protein synthesis, which can lead to muscle mass.” He added, “Based on the characteristics between doped and non-doped power lifters, we conclude that a period of anabolic steroid usage is an advantage for a power lifter in competition, even several years after they stop taking a doping drug.”
As many clean Olympic athletes argued, once a competitor used an anabolic steroid, the competitive advantage may be maintained over years.
And the NFL doles out a 4 game suspension for steroid policy violations...