Research published in the Journal of Physiology suggests that athletes who use steroids for a short period can benefit for their entire careers.
Female mice were treated with testosterone propionate for 14 days, inducing a 66% increase in the number of myonuclei and a 77% increase in fibre cross sectional area. Three weeks after removing the drug, fibre size was decreased to the same level as in sham treated animals, but the number of nuclei remained elevated for at least 3 months (>10% of the mouse lifespan). At this time, when the myonuclei-rich muscles were exposed to overload-exercise for 6 days, the fibre cross sectional area increased by 31% while control muscles did not grow significantly. We suggest that the lasting, elevated number of myonuclei constitutes a cellular memory facilitating subsequent muscle overload hypertrophy. Our findings might have consequences for the exclusion time of doping offenders. Since the ability to generate new myonuclei is impaired in the elderly our data also invites speculation that it might be beneficial to perform strength training when young in order to benefit in senescence.
Prof Kristian Gundersen, from the University of Oslo, told BBC News what the same holds true for humans. Despite the long held belief that steroid users lose the benefit of the drugs when they stop taking them, the Norwegian research suggests that even a brief exposure to steroids could have a long-lasting effect.
Another study examines the impact of anabolic steroid use on power lifters years after the athletes had ceased to take the drugs.
A team of researchers has examined the impact of anabolic steroid use on power lifters years after the athletes had ceased to take the drugs. The researchers found that while physical traces of the drug no longer remained, changes in the shoulder and quadriceps still gave lifters an advantage years later.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Eriksson, ”It is possible that the high number of nuclei we found in the muscle might be beneficial for an athlete who continues or resumes strength training because increased myonuclei opens up the possibility of increasing protein synthesis, which can lead to muscle mass.” He added, “Based on the characteristics between doped and non-doped power lifters, we conclude that a period of anabolic steroid usage is an advantage for a power lifter in competition, even several years after they stop taking a doping drug.”