Hoffman, JR, Kraemer, WJ, Bhasin, S, Storer, T, Ratamess, NA, Haff, GG, Willoughby, DS, and Rogol, AD. Position stand on Androgen and human growth hormone use. J Strength Cond Res 23(5): S1-S59, 2009-Perceived yet often misunderstood demands of a sport, overt benefits of anabolic drugs, and the inability to be offered any effective alternatives has fueled anabolic drug abuse despite any consequences. Motivational interactions with many situational demands including the desire for improved body image, sport performance, physical function, and body size influence and fuel such negative decisions. Positive countermeasures to deter the abuse of anabolic drugs are complex and yet unclear. Furthermore, anabolic drugs work and the optimized training and nutritional programs needed to cut into the magnitude of improvement mediated by drug abuse require more work, dedication, and preparation on the part of both athletes and coaches alike. Few shortcuts are available to the athlete who desires to train naturally. Historically, the NSCA has placed an emphasis on education to help athletes, coaches, and strength and conditioning professionals become more knowledgeable, highly skilled, and technically trained in their approach to exercise program design and implementation. Optimizing nutritional strategies are a vital interface to help cope with exercise and sport demands (516-518). In addition, research-based supplements will also have to be acknowledged as a strategic set of tools (e.g., protein supplements before and after resistance exercise workout) that can be used in conjunction with optimized nutrition to allow more effective adaptation and recovery from exercise. Resistance exercise is the most effective anabolic form of exercise, and over the past 20 years, the research base for resistance exercise has just started to develop to a significant volume of work to help in the decision-making process in program design (187,248,305). The interface with nutritional strategies has been less studied, yet may yield even greater benefits to the individual athlete in their attempt to train naturally. Nevertheless, these are the 2 domains that require the most attention when trying to optimize the physical adaptations to exercise training without drug use.
Recent surveys indicate that the prevalence of androgen use among adolescents has decreased over the past 10-15 years (154,159,246,253,370,441,493). The decrease in androgen use among these students may be attributed to several factors related to education and viable alternatives (i.e., sport supplements) to substitute for illegal drug use. Although success has been achieved in using peer pressure to educate high school athletes on behaviors designed to reduce the intent to use androgens (206), it has not had the far-reaching effect desired. It would appear that using the people who have the greatest influence on adolescents (coaches and teachers) be the primary focus of the educational program. It becomes imperative that coaches provide realistic training goals for their athletes and understand the difference between normal physiological adaptation to training or that is pharmaceutically enhanced. Only through a stringent coaching certification program will academic institutions be ensured that coaches that they hire will have the minimal knowledge to provide support to their athletes in helping them make the correct choices regarding sport supplements and performance-enhancing drugs.
The NSCA rejects the use of androgens and hGH or any performance-enhancing drugs on the basis of ethics, the ideals of fair play in competition, and concerns for the athlete's health. The NSCA has based this position stand on a critical analysis of the scientific literature evaluating the effects of androgens and human growth hormone on human physiology and performance. The use of anabolic drugs to enhance athletic performance has become a major concern for professional sport organizations, sport governing bodies, and the federal government. It is the belief of the NSCA that through education and research we can mitigate the abuse of androgens and hGH by athletes. Due to the diversity of testosterone-related drugs and molecules, the term androgens is believed to be a more appropriate term for anabolic steroids.
1. Androgen administration in a concentration-dependent manner increases lean body mass, muscle mass, and maximal voluntary strength in men. However, the upper concentration for maximum effects remains unknown.
2. Combined administration of androgens and resistance exercise training is associated with greater gains in lean body mass, muscle size, and maximal voluntary strength in men than either intervention alone.
3. Testosterone therapy is approved only for the treatment of hypogonadism in adolescent and adult men. However, the anabolic applications of androgens and selective AR modulators are being explored for the functional limitations associated with aging and some types of chronic illness.
4. The magnitude and frequency of adverse effects among androgen users have not been systematically studied. Potential adverse effects of androgen use in men include suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, mood and behavior disorders, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hepatic dysfunction with oral androgens, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, acne, gynecomastia, and withdrawal after discontinuation. In addition, the polypharmacy of many androgen users (psychoactive and accessory drugs) may have serious adverse effects of their own.
5. The adverse effects of androgen administration in women are similar to those noted in men. In addition, women using androgens may also experience virilizing side effects such as enlargement of the clitoris, deepening of the voice, hirsutism, and changes in body habitus. These changes may not be reversible on cessation of androgen use.
6. In pre- and peripubertal children, androgen use may lead to virilization, premature epiphyseal closure, and resultant adult short stature.
7. Since 1990, the use of androgens for a nonmedical purpose is illegal. Androgens are labeled as a schedule III drug. Possession of any schedule III substance including androgens is punishable by fine, prison time, or both. Prescribing androgens for bodybuilding or enhanced athletic performance is also punishable as noted above.
8. Human growth hormone increases lean body mass within weeks of administration; however, the majority of the change is within the water compartment and not in body cell mass.
9. Human growth hormone is unlikely to be administered as a single agent but often in combination with androgens.
10. Combined administration of hGH and resistance exercise training is associated with minimal gains in lean body mass, muscle size, and maximal voluntary strength in men compared with resistance exercise alone.
11. Human growth hormone is approved for the therapy of children and adolescents with growth hormone deficiency, Turner syndrome, small for gestational age with failure to catch-up to the normal growth curves, chronic kidney disease, Prader-Willi syndrome, idiopathic short stature, Noonan syndrome, and SHOX gene deletion. For adults, hGH is approved for the treatment of GH deficiency, AIDS/HIV with muscle wasting, and short bowel syndrome.
12. The magnitude and frequency of adverse events associated with hGH use are clearly dose related. Potential adverse events include suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary GH/IGF-1 axis, water retention, edema, increased intracranial pressure, joint and muscle aches, and those of needle injection (hepatitis and HIV/AIDS). These should be the same in women as well as in men.
13. Continued effort should be made to educate athletes, coaches, parents, physicians, and athletic trainers along with the general public on androgen and hGH use and abuse. Educational programs should focus on potential medical risks of these illegal performance-enhancing drugs use, optimizing training programs and concurrent nutritional strategies to enhance physiological adaptation and performance. In addition, educating coaches on setting realistic training goals and expectations for their athletes will help reduce the pressures to use illegal PED and assist in potentially identifying potential users of illegal PED.
14. The NSCA supports and promotes additional research funding to be directed toward effective educational programs, documentation of both acute and long-term adverse effects of androgen and hGH abuse, strategies for optimizing athletic performance through training and nutritional interventions, strategies to help athletes discontinue androgen and hGH use, and strategies for the detection of abuse of androgens and hGH.