4 Most Commonly Used Performance-Enhancing Drugs

What are they, what are the risks, and who's used what


Androstenedione (Andro)

What is it?

This PED allows athletes to train harder and longer. Basically, it puts a ball-gag on your body when it’s screaming, “Please, dear God, just sit down.” Androstenedione, in and of itself, is a hormone naturally produced by your body. Some athletes though take things a little too far and inject or take it in pill form. Multiple scientists have refuted claims that andro legitimately enhances muscle growth/development.


Taking androstenedione runs the risks that most of us associate with with steroids: ball shrinkage, enlarged breasts, and lowering sperm count. Just think of Bob, the character who smothered Tyler Durden during a testicular cancer support group meeting, from Fight Club.

Athletes Who’ve Tested Positive

  • Roy Jones Jr.: A few days after he defeated Richard Hall in the 2000 heavyweight championship fight, Jones tested positive for andro. However, during this time, it was an over-the-counter supplement, so he faced no punishments.
  • Marc McGwire: McGwire admitted to using andro in 1998 when he was playing in the Major League. Again, it was legal then, so there were no repercussions.

Anabolic Steroids 

What are they?

Anabolic steroids are “man made” versions of testosterone (the manliest of hormones). In simpler terms, they are the Amazon version of testosterone: manufactured. Athletes, especially body builders, misuse these drugs in order to speed up and intensify muscle growth.


There is a long, long list of health risks associated with abusing anabolic steroids. This one though has a behavior side effect: aggression. Just go re-watch a few episodes of “The Jersey Shore,” watch Mike, “The Situation,” headbutt a wall, and it will all make sense.

Athletes Who’ve Tested Positive

  • Anderson Silva: Silva tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2015 leading up to UFC match against Nick Diaz. He was disqualified from the match.
  • Barry Bonds: Bonds became part of an investigation into his trainer who was caught supplying anabolic steroids to athletes which turned into a subsequent court trial and conviction. During the trial, Bonds claimed to have never taken anabolic steroids which was a flat out lie. He was charged with perjury in 2011.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Terminator turned California Governor admitted to using anabolic steroids throughout his body builder career. If it makes you feel any better though, he says that he “did not use them for muscle growth, but rather for muscle maintenance when cutting up.”


What Are They?

If you’ve been to college or watched The Wolf of Wall Street, you probably are familiar with stimulants. They increase your energy and, in some cases, your focus. Athletes have been known to use controlled stimulants such as Adderall or illegal stimulants like cocaine. Their reason for taking them is usually to give them an energy boost for training or competitions.


Due to the fact that they can dramatically increase your heartrate, stimulants can really screw with your heart. They also can be very addictive, again, Wolf of Wall Street.

Athletes Who’ve Tested Positive

  • Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson: Henderson published an autobiography in 1987, and in it he admitted to snorting cocaine out of an inhaler DURING Super Bowl XIII. He checked himself into rehab, two years later, he was kicked off the Miami Dolphins after testing positive for cocaine.
  • Diego Maradona: In 1991, the soccer player was put on a 15 month suspension after testing positive for cocaine.
  • Lawrence Taylor: Taylor faced a 30 day suspension from the NFL in 1988 after testing positive for cocaine. In 2003, ALSO published an autobiography in which he ALSO confessed to being high on cocaine during games as well as using his teammates’ urine during routine drug testing.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

What Is It?

Human growth hormone is basically anabolic steroids on steroids. It not only increases muscle mass, but it also strengthens bones and tendons. It is used medically to help treat growth deficiencies. But, athletes have been known to use it as a way to speed up injury recovery and increase lean muscle mass.


A drug that effects your entire body at once sounds super safe, right? Well, it can actually thicken your bones which can eventually paralyze you. It also is known to cause both prostate and colon cancer.

Athletes Who’ve Tested Positive

  • Bill Romanowski: During an interview on “60 Minutes,” Romanowski admitted to using HGH while playing in the NFL. The interview took place in 2005, and, since he retired in 2003, he was not punished for his drug use.
  • Jason Giambi: In 2003, Giambi admitted to a federal grand jury that he used HGH during his time in the MLB. However, HGH had not been banned yet by the MLB while Giambi was taking the drug. And, you guessed it, he was not disciplined.

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Morgan Williams is a freelance humor writer based in Atlanta.