The pharmaceutical anabolic steroids are believed to have been inadvertently discovered by German scientists in the early 1930s. Anabolic steroids or androgenic steroids are the synthetic derivatives of testosterone that promote muscle and bone growth. These steroids are medically used to treat uncontrolled weight loss in wasting diseases.
However, these steroids are often used by bodybuilders, athletes, and sports persons to increase their muscle mass, strength, and stamina. The first known use of anabolic steroid— testosterone propionate was mentioned in US weightlifting/bodybuilding magazine, Strength and Health magazine in 1938.
The International Amateur Athletic Federation, now the International Association of Athletics Federations, became the first international governing body of sport to ban anabolic steroids in sports. These drugs were banned by FIFA, Union Cycliste Internationale (cycling), and International Olympic Committee in 1966-67.
However, Major League Baseball remained lenient about the use of steroids in baseball. The use of steroids in baseball became hotly debatable in the mid 1990s. Steroids in baseball became hot subject of sports news, magazines, and rumors. Though, a 1988 US federal law declared the use and distribution of anabolic steroid drugs for nontherapeutic illegal, Major League Baseball did not test for steroids in baseball until 2003.
The was a drastic rise in home runs since 1995 that greatly contributed to strengthening the influence of steroids in baseball; Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds had all stunningly surpassed the home run record set by Roger Maris – whose 61 homers in 1961 had not been challenged in over 30 years.
Often, post 1994 period is referred to as “Steroids Era.” There were a number of stories on steroids in baseball. The first evidence of steroids in baseball came out when a bottle of a nutritional supplement was found in Mark McGwire´s locker; the bottle was found containing Androstendione, a prohormone. Ken Caminiti revealed to Sports Illustrated that he won the 1996 NL MVP award while on steroids. He also revealed that 50% of the players in the league were using steroids. In a book published during steroids in baseball imbroglio, Jose Canseco admitted using steroids and also revealed that 85% of all players in MLB were using steroids.
The fact was “eye-opener” for MLB. The Journalists Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada exposed the BALCO scandal associated with steroids in baseball & other sports in 2003. The nutrition center BALCO, was accused of distributing steroids to many star players, like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Jeremy Giambi, Bobby Estalella, and Armando Rios.
The most famous instances of steroids in baseball are that of Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, who were suspected of using anabolic steroids in baseball. Giambi admitted before a U.S. grand jury that he used a duo of undetectable steroids known respectively as “the cream” and “the clear.” He also admitted that he received the drugs from his personal trainer Greg Anderson during the 2003 season. On the other hand, Bonds revealed that his trainer told him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a pain-relieving balm for his arthritis.
The Major League Baseball conducted random testing steroids in baseball in 2003. The League toughened its policies a bit on the use of steroids in baseball. The players, such as Ryan Franklin and others were suspended for ten days, but a Congressional panel argued that the penalties were not tough enough, and took action. Thus, several top players, such as Rafael Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa, Canseco and Curt Schilling were testified in front of Congress on March 17, 2005. Congress has been continuously pressuring MLB for instituting a comprehensive testing policy for its players.