In 1954, a physician named John Ziegler attended the World Weightlifting Championships in Vienna, Austria, as the team's doctor. The Soviets dominated the competition that year, easily breaking several world records and winning gold medals in legions of weight classes. According to anecdotal reports, Ziegler invited the Soviet´s team doctor to a bar and the doctor told him that that his lifters had used testosterone injections as part of their training programs. Whether that story is true or not, ultimately, the Americans returned from the World Championships that year and immediately began their efforts to defeat the Soviets using pharmaceutical enhancement.
As you may have expected, when they returned to the United States, the team doctor began administering straight testosterone to his weightlifters. He also got involved with Ciba, the large pharmaceutical firm, and attempted to synthesize a substance with strength enhancing effects comparable or better than testosterone's. In 1956, Methandrostenolone was created, and given the name "Dianabol".
In the following years, little pink Dianabol tablets found their way into many weightlifter´s training program, fast forward a few years, and in the early 1960s, there was a clear gap between Ziegler´s weightlifters and the rest of the country, and much less of one between them and the Soviets. It was also in the 1960´s that another anabolic steroid had been developed and used to treat short stature in children with Turner Disease syndrome (13)
At this time, physicians around the United States began to take notice of steroids, and numerous studies were performed on athletes taking them, in an effort to stem the tide of athletes attempting to obtain steroids for use in sports. The early studies on steroids clearly showed that anabolic steroids offered no athletic benefit whatsoever, but in retrospect can be said to have several design flaws. The first issue with those studies, and the most glaring one was that the doses were usually very low, too low to really produce much of an effect at all. In addition, it was neither common for these studies to not be double blind nor to be randomized. A double blind study is one where neither the scientists nor the subjects of the study know if they are getting a real medication or a placebo. A randomized study is where the real medicine is randomly dispersed throughout the test group. Finally, in those early studies, and exercise was not really controlled or standardized. Not long after those flawed studies were concluded, the Physicians Desk Reference boldly (and wrongly) claimed that anabolic steroids were not useful in enhancing athletic performance. Despite this, in 1967, the International Olympic Council banned the use of anabolic steroids and by the mid 1970´s most major sporting organizations had also banned them.
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