Are there any natural steroids?

13 July 2008


I wanted to know if there are any naturally derived (or if there are only synthetic) steroids. Also, if there are any natural steroids would it be possible for an athlete to get them in his daily diet? Would that disqualify him from any sporting events?


We put this question to Professor Chris Cooper:

That's a really interesting question. There are natural steroids. Testosterone is a natural steroid and obviously men have more of that than women do. It's illegal to take testosterone because it's not part of your normal diet. You can't get a diet equivalent to fail a drugs test. It's difficult to take a steroid in any normal diet to have an effect because they don't work orally. You have to inject them, then it's obvious you're doing the cheating. Where it's a more grey area is in some of the metabolites the body makes from these artificial compounds which are also illegal because the agencies say that means you've taken the metabolites. There's a concern that if you exercise very hard on certain diets you might make small amounts of these metabolites naturally. Then it's a question of what level the drug company sets those out. It's difficult to take the natural compound to fail a drugs test. The bodies make it that way. They don't want to fail people for that.

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