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Brief steroids use can enhance athletes’ performance for decades

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 23:38

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Oslo: A new study suggests that athletes who use steroids even for a very brief period of time could have long-lasting effects later in their performance.

Published in the Journal of Physiology, the study was carried out by the University of Oslo researchers using mice. The experiment showed that brief exposure to testosterone enabled the mice to quickly regain muscle later in their lives.

The scientist behind the research says the finding was consistent with anecdotal evidence from athletes of a similar “muscle memory” effect.

Earlier, it was thought that an athlete’s performance returned to normal after it came off steroids.

Professor Kristian Gundersen of the University of Oslo, who led the research said: “Mice were briefly exposed to steroids which resulted in increased muscle mass and number of cell nuclei in the muscle fibres”.

“Three months after withdrawal of the drug (approximately 15 per cent of a mouse’s life span) their muscles grew by 30 per cent over six days following load exercise. The untreated mice grew insignificantly.”

The new research has raised questions about whether the length of the doping penalties for athletes caught using anabolic steroids should be extended to life in which the maximum barring time is presently two years as per the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

First Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 23:38
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