After listening to a radio program discussing performance-enhancing drugs and athletes I realized that many laymen are under the impression that athletes have designer steroids made up for them that the drug test cannot detect. This got me thinking.
My involvement with steroids spans over 20 years. I never came across a designer steroid. In fact, no real development of new steroids has taken place in the last 20 years or more. There is an obvious reason for this – cost and application.
It is extremely expensive to develop new pharmaceuticals in general. Who would use new steroids anyway except the athletes and bodybuilders? In fact, numerous steroids are no longer available from legitimate pharmaceutical companies because they simply have no clinical application anymore.
It would be very unlikely that individuals or companies would expend so many resources. Simply to develop a new substance for a few athletes or even a few thousand athletes. They would never recoup the cost that would run into tens of millions of rands.
The second factor is that in all this time nobody in the industry has crossed paths with a designer steroid. This seems highly unlikely if there where new steroids out there. So where does the idea of designer steroids come from?
One explanation is that athletes use substances that are not generally listed or is only found in veterinary medicine. Testing for steroids involves testing for a specific substance. The authorities are usually one or ten steps behind what guys are using. When they finally catch up the word designer steroid thrown about.
Another explanation is different versions of steroids, more specifically fast and slow acting steroids. Take Nandrolone Decanoate, for instance, typically the long-acting version we all know is pretty much tested for first, but the fast acting Phenylpropionate has a far better chance of slipping through the test. Again this could be labeled a designer steroid. There are many such examples.
Finally, I think that developing substances that mask the tests are far more likely and viable. They will more closely guard it. Also, it would take far less manpower and resources to experiment with and develop it. It is likely that if a designer steroids out there, people keep them well hidden. However, it is more likely it is just an urban myth.