John Hoberman, The University of Texas
Anabolic steroids have become familiar to the public
as drugs which are widely assumed to boost athletic performance.
The Ben Johnson scandal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic
Games only confirmed the widespread view that steroids have
become an essential, if illicit, ingredient of certain recordbreaking
performances in track and field as well as Olympic
But the association of steroids with athletic performance
is only part of the story. Anabolic steroids, first
isolated by chemists in the 1930s, are synthetic male sex
hormones which mimic or amplify the effects of natural
testosterone, which produces the male secondary sex characteristics
and the sex drive itself. So it is not surprising that for
centuries primitive precursors of synthetic steroids have been
used as aphrodisiacs and rejuvenating elixirs.
Fantasies about the restorative powers...
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