Use it, don’t abuse it: Where is the actual line drawn when it comes to steroid abuse in bodybuilding?

Steroid use has been a constant controversial issue in most professional sports – but the spotlight is particularly shined on bodybuilding throughout the decades. While not endorsed by any leagues – it’s widely considered common knowledge that the size of muscle seen in pro bodybuilding is impossible without the use of steroids. It’s also well documented that steroid abuse can lead to serious medical problems in the long term. But where is the line drawn between use and abuse? Is it possible for bodybuilders to use steroids safely? In our latest GI Exclusive interview, the Anabolic Doc attempts to break down the distinction between safe use of steroids and abuse of steroids in bodybuilding.

First thing’s first, recreational use of steroids for athletic enhancement is illegal in the United States and not endorsed by pro bodybuilding leagues. That doesn’t stop athletes from finding ways to use it. For many professional athletes (not just in bodybuilding), there is a choice that needs to be made. Is the athlete willing to take a potential health risk to achieve athletic greatness? If an athlete does indeed choose to go down the path of steroids – is it possible to still gain benefit and be safe? We asked Dr. Thomas O’Connor, aka the Anabolic Doc, this very question.

There is somewhat a limit on what the Anabolic Doc could say on this topic to avoid danger of losing his medical license. But he was able to touch upon the confusion behind the “use it, don’t abuse it” sentiment with steroid use. We’ve spoke to other experts who claim that bodybuilding steroid use is always abuse in order to achieve the physiques we see on stage. Is this true? Or can some bodybuilders gain benefit from steroids and PEDs safely?

The Anabolic Doc admits that low doses of certain steroids can be safe – but the doses are so low that they would barely help with athletic performance. At least, in the way that bodybuilders and many star athletes aim to achieve. The doctor also admits that the definition of abuse in bodybuilding is very confusion. A big part of that confusion comes from lack of research.

The truth is, as it currently exists right now, there is no clear answer on what is safe and what is not in recreational steroid use. Due to its illegal status in the United States, there have been limited studies on the real effects happening in sports where steroids are used regularly. While the Anabolic Doc cannot advocate for legalizing steroids – he does raise the question. Would legalizing steroids lead to a healthier society? Much like the slow legalization of marijuana, it may actually be better for society’s health to provide safe and legal access to these drugs.

Oregon, for example, has decriminalized all drugs ranging from marijuana all the way to heroine. It’s still in the early stages but it would be interesting to see if this has a negative or positive effect on the health of Oregon residents who use drugs. Theoretically, if steroids were made legal for use in sports, individuals could get safer access to drugs and safer access to medical help. It could actually lead to pro athletes being monitored, preventing serious health issues.

So where is the line drawn under the “use it, don’t abuse it” motto? The sad truth is that there is no line. Each individual is different and there is not enough research to safely prove these kinds of definitions. The Anabolic Doc sees medicine and views on drug use/abuse improving over the decades, however slowly, he is optimistic that these questions will one day have real answers. It will simply take time.

You can watch the Anabolic Doc go into full detail about the definition of steroid abuse in real world practices by watching our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!

*DISCLAIMER: Generation Iron does not recommend or condone the use of steroids or other PEDs. The views and opinions expressed in this video are not that of Generation Iron.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.