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Anabolic Steroids: A Historical Perspective
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Anabolic Steroids: A Historical Perspective - 02-11-2012, 11:40 AM

By: Glycomann

Anabolics in Bodybuilding in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s

Time line (partial list)

Testosterone propionate: 1938
Dianabol: 1956
Testosterone enanthate 1958
Nandrolone phenpropionate 1959
Methenolone acetate 1961
Oxymetholone 1961
Nandrolone decanoate 1962
Methenolone enanthate1962
Oxandrolone 1962
Stanozolol 1963
Testosterone cypionate 1975
Trenbolone acetate 1975

The first anabolic steroid isolated was androstenone from human urine by Adolf Butenandt. It was later synthesized by German chemist Leopold Ruzicka in 1931. Later three competing groups raced to isolate a more powerful androgen known to be present in testes and in 1935 Karoly Gyula David, E. Dingemanse, J. Freud and Ernst Laqueur published their successful isolation in a paper "On Crystalline Male Hormone from Testicles (Testosterone). The chemical synthesis of testosterone was achieved in August that year, by Butenandt and G. Hanisch. The age of anabolics was born. Clinical trials using methyltestosterone and testosterone propionate began in 1937. The sport of bodybuilding wasted no time. Testosterone propionate was mentioned in Strength and Health magazine in1938. There are unsubstantiated rumors that Nazi Germany used testosterone preparations on their armed forces. The Allied forces used them to treat malnourished concentration camp survivors. Therapeutic capacity of this class of compounds was realized the moment or even prior to the first isolations from natural tissue. One has to wonder how quickly these compounds made their way to Hollywood. I think of Mae West, who was toward the end of her Hollywood career by the end of the 1930s. What was she known for? Musclemen. She surrounded herself with musclemen. Hell, she married one in ther later years named Chester Rybinski, a Mr. California. Yes, one has to wonder how soon Hollywood introduced steroids into the mix. Afterall, many Jews that were rescued from German concentration camps were really saved by these compounds. It is not unreasonable to think that Jewsish mogals in hollywood, that essentially ran the industry (i.e. Lewis Goldwyn - Carl Meyer et al.) knew of these things and their power?

Russian sports programs began the use of testosterone derivatives in their athletic programs through the 1940s and quickly ***inated Olympic lifting. At the same time in limited circles these anabolic compounds were being used for bodybuilding purposes. It is rumored that Reg Park, after winning the Mr. Briton title in 1949, visited the United States for 6 months where he met Joe Weider. It has been reported by former Mr. Universe (1972) Roger Walker that Park gained 50 lbs in that 6 months. There are also rumors that Steve Reeves used testosterone although he has denied their use in many interviews, although be did admit to b12 injections.
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02-11-2012, 11:40 AM

Reg Park wins the 1950 Best Developed Athlete in America - IFBB, Tall, 1st and
1950 Best Developed Athlete in America - IFBB, Overall Winner. The IFBB was founded by Joe and Ben Weider in 1946. These guys have been very supportive of the steroid induced physique. One could arguably state that Joe and Ben would have made only a small fraction of what they ultimately made in the bodybuilding business had it not been for steroids. It could be that the Weiders promoted their use early on, at least in some individuals… like Park?
In the 1952 Olympics the Russians again ***inated in Olympic strength sports prompting physician John Ziegler at Ciba labs to investigate testosterone and its derivatives for athletic enhancing affects. At Ciba Zeigler had access to hundreds of steroid compounds and notes confiscated from Nazi Germany where testosterone research was performed. Ziegler wanted desperately to develop a better anabolic than testosterone to defeat the Russians at their own game of chemical enhancement. Ciba released Dianabol in 1958 and Zeigler administered the drug to Bill March of the York Barbell club in 1959 when he was the physician to the U.S. Weightlifting team. It is also claimed he gave the drug to the entire 1960 Olympic lifting squad and others such as Bob Hoffman and himself. Ziegler and Hoffman experimented with testosterone as well as Dianabol. Ironically, the USA team still lost to the Russians in 1960. If Bob Hoffman, the founder of the York Barbell company, was using them you can bet that there was an inner circle of lifters that were using Dianabol as well as testosterone as early as the mid 1950s.

By the 1960s Hoffman’s York barbell club was the beefiest in the country. Of course, Hoffman claimed this was the result of his new isometrics training. Ziegler prescribed his little pink pills but the beefy lifters far exceeded the prescribed doses. Zeigler was horrified when he examined some of these athletes as their prostates were enlarged and their testes atrophied. Later in life Ziegler is known to have regretted his invention.
The 1960s were the beginning of notable dissemination of steroids into the weight lifting and bodybuilding communities. Estimating from his website and his own admission, Dave Draper began experimenting with steroids in or about 1962. He was about 10 years into his weight training at the time. He was probably using Dianabol since this and testosterones were the only drugs available at the time. He noted a definite increase in his muscle size, quality and separation on use. Bill Pearl claims to have only used them for a brief period in 1967 but if you look at his cover picture in Strength and Health Feb 1965 (published by Bob Hoffman), either he is the greatest genetic freak ever at that point in time or he was on something. Even Eugene Sandow’s physique, an undisputed natural freak, could not compare. What the paradigm was at that time as far as drug regimen and duration I can only guess. Probably, it was based on what leaked out of the Soviet Union, what Hoffman and Ziegler were up to, and whatever the doctors were prescribing multiplied by some factor. The original Gold’s Gym opened in Venice Beach CA in 1965 and quickly became the Mecca of bodybuilding. Dianabol flowed freely there and on the West Coast in general. Accounts from athletes of the day claim that Dianabol was the main drug used. Natural training was the trend most of the year. Then for bodybuilding contests Dianabol was used for 3 months or so leading up to the contest. After the contest the use stopped and the training intensity dropped. Users shrank down and over the next 6-9 months fell back to normal and began to gain at a normal pace after recovery. In 1968 Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to CA sponsored by Joe Weider. Weider paid him a stipend of 80 dollars, which is probably the equivalent of about 20,000 a year by today’s standard. Arnold’s gang changed the paradigm of steroid use. By the late 1960s many more compounds were available including several forms of testosterone, Dianabol, stanozolol, nandrolone phenpropionate, nandrolone decanoate, oxandrolone, oxymetholone, methenolone acetate and enanthate. There was now an arsenal of drugs with noticeable differences in their effect. It has been rumored that Arnold favored Primobolan, Dianabol and Deca Durabolin. In view of the compounds available at the time, this is not hard to accept. These were among the best and the most advanced compounds of the day. Counterfeits were not a problem at the time. California MDs were handing this stuff out. In light of this it is not surprising that most of the top bodybuilders of the day did not sport notable gynecomastia as Primobolin and deca durabolin do not aromatize to the same extent as testosterone and the former will not aromatize to any appreciable amount. Of course Dianabol will aromatize to estrogens but one might look at Dianabol as a convenient fix for estrogen deficiency on use of the other compounds. So, given the lower drug dosages of the day, compared to today’s standards, the absence of gynecomastia in most of the top pros, it is probably not that unexpected that gyno was pretty much absent.

In the 1960s admitted Dianabol lover Larry Scott ***inated bodybuilding. Still the bodybuilding magazines, despite Scott and other’s admission of steroid use, continued to espouse the virtues of nutritional supplements in the quest for added lean mass, while suppressing knowledge of the use of anabolic/androgenic steroids in he physique industry. Of course, these supplements were either owned by the magazine founders or supported the magazine by virtue of their advertisement fees.
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02-11-2012, 11:40 AM


This was the heyday of bodybuilding. Most of the classic bodybuilding icons were made in this decade. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane, Mike Mentzer, Danny Padilla, the list goes on. This was the best time to be a bodybuilder. Anabolics were legal. The public was in awe of the cartoon-like physiques of the best in the field. Every high school boy wanted to be Arnold. Arnold, used as a name on its own was understood to be Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Anabolic androgenic steroids were cycled. There was still not much in the way of post cycle therapy. SERMS were not used. Nolvadex was not approved for use in the United States until 1977. Clomid was approved later and other SERMS much later. hCG use did not come into vogue until the 1980s. So, steroid cycling was really just a steroid only practice. Pyramid cycles were very popular. Anabolics were slowly increased in dosage held at some peak or near peak and then decreased in dose back down. Longer tapers were sometimes used at the tail end of the cycle in an effort to allow the endocrine to normalize and prevent a crash.
This era was not without side effects. I recall rumors that Danny Padilla could not have sex with his wife, probably a fair amount of deca durabolin use there. Deca was really the base of a lot of cycles in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1970s bodybuilders actually still took a fair amount of time off of their anabolics. You can find pictures of most of the icons in strangely deflated states. Off was off. There were no peptides, SERMS, sarms or even creatine. Off was off and the athletes dealt with it.
Anabolic steroids were not lost on Hollywood in the 1970s. Hollywood muscle was on the rise Mad Max 1979, had of course Mel Gibson and also the character “the great Humongous”. Pumping iron (1977), The Increadible hulk Series 1977 centered on the steroid enhanced physique of Lou Ferrigno. Hollywood was beginning to find the marketability of the enhanced physique.


Bodybuilding continued to thrive. The gene pool was being tapped into deeper and deeper. Physiques continued to improve. Mass became the emerging king. Lee Haney ***inated the Olympia stage from 1984 through into the early 1990s. Early versions of hGH were becoming available. Crescorman, a version of hGH derived from the brains of cadavers, was available. This stuff was dangerous. As many as 1 in 20 became ill with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in France. In the U.S. the number was closer to 1 in 300. But, undoubtedly, some bodybuilders used it. Genentech gained approval for use in humans in 1985. Man was it expensive. Use was sort of cautious at first since the whole hGH saga was a horror story from the start. Afterall, who want’s to inject something extracted from corpses especially when it was found that your brain could turn to mush. It sounds like a horror story. Some of the earlier versions of recombinant hGH generated an antibody response as the peptide sequence was not identical to the native form. So, still bodybuilders were a bit cautious. By the late 1980s recombinant hGH had made it’s way to use in the novice level and higher bodybuilder. Use was obvious. For those who could afford to use it correctly a dramatic difference in physique look and strength was seen.

Bodybuildeing continued to gain in popularity. Steroids had enhanced sports such as football and many Olympic sports. Hollywood was addled with steroids. Leading men in action pictures such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Swatzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damm lead the pack. Muscle was sexy and it sold like sex.

Pretty much the entire arsenal of anabolic androgenic steroid compounds seen on today’s market were already present back in the 1980s. However, ancillary drugs like aromatase inhibitors and SERMS either did not exist or were used only in extreme cases. Nolvadex was around but was considered a drug to treat breast cancer. It was used to reduce gynecomastia when it was available. It was not possible to google teslac or Nolvadex and have it mailed to your post office box. It simply did not work that way. The way one obtained AAS was usually at the gym and often times a local or higher level competitor in bodybuilding or power lifting had a connection. That was pretty much it. So your cycle depended largely on what the dealer was carrying when you had the cash or, if you were smart, you would stock up over time so you would have precisely what you wanted to use.

Educating oneself in the 80s

This was a bit of a challenge but there were a few “underground” hand books. There was, of course, Dan Duchaine’s Underground Steroid Handbook. There was also books by Dr. Marou de Pasquale, Bill Phillips and several others. These were pretty much how to books with very liberal descriptions of each compound and their various characteristics. Sample cycles were suggested etc. The d ePasquale book was a bit more clinical and had accounts of use and some showed a definite psychological pathology in some users. Potential users and users alike would flock to any source for information. Fredreick “Dr Squat” Hatfield published a text on powerlifting with sample cycles for powerlifting. Arnold’s education of a bodybuilder had some references to AAS use. We were all really scavenging for information in those days. People were really just winging it for the most part. Duchaine’s book was probably the most informative for the time and has become legend even though the author died of kidney failure although caused by hereditary polycystic kidney disease.

So why is it that so few used test based cycles in the 80s? The answer is really quite simple. Antiestrogens were difficult to come by. Nolvadex and Clomid were really the only ones available aside from the extremely expensive teslac, the only antiaromatase available at the time. It was really not much of an option to wait around for Nolvadex to start your test cycle and there was no guarantee that it would work that well. So most guys used deca as a base. Although it can lead to gyno, chances are that the average user could get away with use of this drug for some time. Most would add an oral to a Deca base. Some had other favorites to use as a base such as Equipoise or Parabolin. Of course if one was not gyno prone a Test base was fine. So Deca was sort of king in the 80s. Lots of guys got deca dick. The cure for it was HCG at the time.

PCT was still really non existent. Mostly it consisted of a taper of the injectibles or orals being used and a couple of weeks of HCG. Really it was not very effective. Most users really shrank up when they were off pretty dramatically. Nearly everyone crashed.

Peptide hormones were really limited to HCG and Crescorman.
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02-11-2012, 11:40 AM


In bodybuilding deeper and regions of the gene pool were being tapped. Dorian Yates took the Sandow from 1992 through 1997. Then Ronnie Coleman took the mantle. It was officially the decade of mass and more mass. Digging deeper into the gene pool and adding more compounds at higher dose and the addition of more frequent hGH use changed the face of bodybuilding. Interestingly through the decades muscle magazines continued to lay claim to the improved physiques on new equipment, training technology and newer better supplements all of which of course were paying the bills at the publishing office. In Hollywood muscle continued to sell. Hell, even daytime soap stars were rumored to be on steroids. Fitness modeling became an industry more for the mainstream and all of these models were enhanced.

In the earlier part of the 1990s steroids were still legal. They were easily obtained but still frowned upon by the general public. Yet, the public adored the athletes in popular sport even though they were nearly all enhanced. SERMS were more easily obtained since many foreign farmacias would gladly supply them along with hGH, hCG and other ancillaries like T4 and clenbuterol. The names of farmacias willing to do business were advertised in underground steroid handbooks and news letters. Drug availability was much better and PCT gained in popularity. Test based cycles became more feasible as ancillaries like nolvadex were more readily obtainable. The black market became saturated as demand and popularity of the compounds grew. Things like injectible dianabol became available. Blends would be seen.

The fun was to be tainted soon enough. Congress passed The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990. Now athletes became criminals.


Two things changed bodybuilding dramatically in the current decade. They are the internet and peptides. Now it is possible to design several year’s of cycles with PCT and other ancillary drugs sitting in ones armchair. Sit back for 2 weeks and open the door and have a delivery person hand one the goods. Research and education is by the same route. Now there is literally no reason for being without all the necessary compounds and the education to use them safely and effectively… or use them in the riskiest fashion imaginable Of course counterfeits are still a problem and there are likely as many scammers on line as there are legitimate sources and a good source can change to a bad one in a instant. Still, acquisition and use are far easier now than in the past due to the internet. Looking at the pros of the 1980s and comparing them to the pros of the 2000s it is clear that something has changed. A Jay Cutler at 5’9” will grace the stage at 260 lbs. A Ronnie Coleman at 5’10” might step on stage at 300 lbs. We are certainly tapping into a deeper region of the gene pool but still the gain in size is shocking. What is the reason. The reason is peptides. hGH is certainly used much more freaquently and at higher dose. Other peptides such as IGF-1, MGF and many others are available. There are some questions as to the authenticity of much of the internet versions of these compounds but certainly, as were steroids in the 1950s, there are elite groups that have access to the authentic versions. There is another peptide that has been available for decades that seems to be having a big impact on the current physiques. That peptide is insulin. In combination with anabolic steroids, hGH and thyroxin, this peptide hormone can be used to partition nutrients in such a way as to greatly increase the amount of protein synthesis possible in the human body.

Steroid/ergogenic protocols have become highly complex and often times extremely high dose. A typical competitive bodybuilder in contest preparation might include test bases using testosterone esters, added anabolics such as nandrolones, trenbolones, hardeners such as stanozol and masteron. Also incuded would be a metabolic enhancer such as T4 or clenbuterol or both. Peptides would likely include hGH, insulin and IGF-1 LR3. On contest day a diuretic might be used like lasix or a peptide such as PGCL might be used in place of such a diuretic leading up to contest day. Things have become much more complex.

The steroid witch hunt started in the 1990s continues. In 2004 The Anabolic Steroid Control Act was updated with new compounds and harsher penalties. Even though in 1980s leading up to drafting of the bill the FDA, the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse provided testimony that there was a lack of evidence of any considerable danger to the public health associated with the use of steroids congress continues to increase the penalties associated with their use. Law enforcement actions such as Operation Raw Deal take place at an almost routine frequency. Looking back through time there were certainly some abusers that suffered the consequences of steroid use. But bye and large most of the past users are still going strong. Will today’s bodybuilders with their increased drug regimines and dosages fair as well as some of the classic bodybuilders such as Bill Pearl, Dave Draper, Franco Columbo and Arnold Swartzenegger? This is difficult to predict. Certainly some of the earlier mass monsters such as Mike Matarazzo have paid a price. There has been an increasing trend toward excess in the bodybuilding life style. In most endeavors excess leads to consequence. Moderation usually leads to spice in life with far fewer consequences. Bodybuilding has always been sort of an exteme sport, a quest to take the human physique to higher and higher levels. Knowledge and technology have pushed that envelope. Over the years we have seen bodybuilding continue to amaze with the added development the ages have built.

The future

So what is next? We can see some advances on the horizon. Myostatin blockers are already here. Gene doping is probably already in existence in China. The human physique will take another leap for certain. Use of all compounds and technological advances will coalesce into the freakish once again. What was spectacle in the 1970s seems almost average today. What is spectacle today will be average tomorrow. It is hard to imagine how this can be. How is it possible that a man can be more muscular than Ronnie Coleman, Branch Warren or Kai Greene? By 2020 what ever it might be will be reality.
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