Crossfit is a relative newcomer in the health and fitness world. It is seriously addictive for some. People either love it and cannot get enough of it, or hate it. But what does CrossFit mean? It is a fitness program that combines a wide variety of functional movements into a timed or scored workout. It’s a competitive workout program that combines multiple sports and training.
But there is a darker side that has emerged with CrossFit. The notable use of anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroid is a derivative of the male sex hormone, testosterone. It’s a misperception to think that performance-enhancing drugs (PED) are used by professional athletes only.
Amateur CrossFitters use these substances not just to enhance their proficiency at their sport, but to develop body image for cosmetic purposes, like weight loss and muscle gain. It can be a tempting shortcut to take steroids to achieve some great results, but there are certainly some harmful side effects to be aware of.
What You Need to Know About Steroids
There are a number of key things you need to know about steroid use, including what exactly they are as well as potential harm that they can cause. Here are some of the highlights.
WHAT ARE STEROIDS?
Why are body-builders so big? Some have a strict regime of diet, weightlifting, fasting, liquid intake, and supplements. Others have gotten big the easier way, through the illegal use of steroids.
Steroids are man-made chemicals. They are used in medicine to help people with anemia and the temporary relief of muscle and tendon pain due to inflammation. These are not anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids copy the effect of the male hormone, testosterone. These steroids build muscle and increase strength. They can be swallowed as tablets, injected directly into the muscle or through the skin in gels and creams.
ABUSE OF ANABOLIC STEROIDS
Anabolic steroids are widely abused throughout the world. They increase lean muscle mass in conjunction with weight training. Many males and females use steroids to help them achieve a perfect body.
These drugs are usually illegally obtained on the Black Market. People of all ages have been known to misuse these drugs, especially adolescent boys who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. They spend their time worrying about their imperfect bodies. They see themselves as physically weak and unmanly.
Often people think by taking anabolic steroids they will become fit and healthy. This is a falsehood: it’s a dangerous drug habit than can result in death.
Compare this to someone like Rich Froning who says that he never uses drugs. Instead, he just works his butt off to get some great results!
The side effects of anabolic steroids depend on the sex of the user, their age, the specific product, the quantity, and the length of abuse. These may include:
- changes in libido
- increased red cell count
- acne, particularly on the body, not the face
- low sperm count
- enlarged male breasts
- fluid retention
- hair growth in women and hair loss in men
- low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (HDL)
- pain in urinating
PROBLEMS WITH OVERUSE OF STEROIDS
Overuse of anabolic steroids can be hazardous and lead to:
- cardiovascular problems including heart attack and stroke resulting in death
- liver damage leading to liver cancer
- bone weakness and calcium deficiency
- stunted growth in teenagers
- shrinking testicles and sterility in men
- shrinking breasts, increased facial and body hair, and deepening voice in women
CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
There are also side effects on behaviour, including:
- mood swings
- reckless behavior
CrossFit Women on Steroids?
Emily Abbott is one high-profile female CrossFit athlete who got busted for steroid use. Find out more information about CrossFit women and steroids here:
Crossfit and Steroids
There are a number of things to consider when you talk about steroid use within the CrossFit community. Here are a few of the highlights.
After several highly publicized scandals with elite CrossFit athletes, some experts declare that CrossFit is rife with steroid use. Indeed the bodies of the CrossFit fanatics look artificially pumped. Taxing their bodies to such a degree is one reason for them taking illegal substances. Steroids help recovery and enhance muscle growth.
CrossFitters were not surprised when the top Australian athlete, Ricky Garad, was found cheating at the 2017 CrossFit Games and was stripped of his title and prize money, along with receiving a 4-year ban from competition. He responded that all the top athletes were on something.
Again in 2018, the CrossFit Games banned their highest-profile female athlete, Emily Abbott, from America, along with 13 others for drug cheating.
CROSSFIT’s ANTI-DOPING PROGRAMME
CrossFit Inc has announced new and tightened testing procedures prior to the 2019 WorldCross Games, which start in Hong Kong at the end of July. CrossFit has partnered with Drug-Free Sports U.S., which analyzes for the NFL, NBA and 300 other elite sports and athletic organizations, to administer its testing program. It should be an interesting test of their ability to control the persistent use of steroids at their Annual CrossFit event.
We welcome the addition of an independent testing body with lots of experience to this popular athletic competition. The athletes and sponsors likely do too! It’s also worth nothing that testing of the top athletes can happen at any time throughout the year, not just during major competitions.
If caught, athletes usually receive a 2-4 year ban from all official CrossFit competitions around the world. Is it worth it? Likely not for the top athletes who stand to lose a ton of money in way of prize money and sponsorships, not to mention respect from those around them.
NOT JUST THE ELITE
There is much-published commentary that it is not just the elite CrossFit athletes using steroids. It has been noted recently in a U.K. study that approximately 13% of 128 athletes have used anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Participants admitted that they used these substances to develop their body image – 50%, lose weight – 41.6%. And gain weight – 25%.
THE TYPE OF ATHLETES IT PRODUCES
Take a look around at the athletes during the next CrossFit Games. Most of them are built, in a huge way and it wouldn’t be such a stretch for them to make the transition into professional bodybuilding. That’s how buff many of them are. Sure, there are exceptions, but we’re talking about generalities here.
It’s for this reason that many people think that these athletes must be on steroids. However, the truth is that CrossFit athletes are often huge because they train like almost nobody else in the world, especially with regards to dynamic weightlifting. This type of training naturally produces people who are ripped in comparison to most other athletes.
The winner of the CrossFit Games is declared to be the fittest person on Earth. This is quite an accurate description and it’s our belief that they got there through hard work, not illegal drug us.
Steroids in CrossFit: Learn More About this Problem
Looking for Solutions – Health Promotion
We believe the increased use of illegal substances in amateur sport requires a new approach by governments. An approach that emphasizes good health and harm minimization.
New strategies such as school education, testing of drug quality, and medical advice should be considered. There must be a social shift in the differentiation of Crossfit elite athletes and amateur CrossFitter. The emphasis should be on fun and health, not the body beautiful at all cost.
Basically, there is no shortcuts if you want to be a top CrossFit athlete (or any elite athlete for that matter). This goal should be achieved through hard work, strict diet, coaching and the right equipment. Of course, genetics plays a big role in this as well. It shouldn’t be achieved or helped by illegal drugs, which is actually cheating.
When you consider the side effects of steroids, it just isn’t worth it. This is to mention nothing of the bans from competition and loss on sponsorships if caught.
10 Athletes Banned from the CrossFit Games due to Steroid Use
Have your Say about CrossFit and Steroid Use
What are your thoughts about steroids within the CrossFit world? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. It’ll help other people, like yourself who want to raise awareness about this serious problem.
Latest posts by Tony Calder (see all)
- Emily Abbott: Everything You Need to Know about this CrossFit Athlete - October 10, 2019
- Ricky Garard: CrossFit Athlete Tested Positive for Banned Substances - October 9, 2019
- Best CrossFit Shoes for High Arches: Find the Perfect Fit! - September 16, 2019