Steroids builds you up, tear you down as fast | Chennai News

CHENNAI: On Monday morning, Dr Lionel Ponraj will be working on repairing the triceps of a bodybuilder torn to shreds by the prolonged use of steroids. “On average, I operate on one case of steroid abuse every month,” says the sports injury consultant for the Sports Development Authority of Tami Nadu.
Anabolic steroids, synthetic derivatives of testosterone, contain substances that stimulate muscle metabolism. In the long term, they do more harm. Risks associated with taking anabolic steroids are extensive and well-documented, ranging from tendor tears because of rapid muscle growth, infertility and erectile dysfunction to addiction and baldness, organ failure and death. Yet several sportsmen, predominantly male bodybuilders, abuse steroids to enhance performance and bulk up muscle mass.
“Most patients who come in with tears lie about taking steroids,” says Dr Ponraj. “But the body does not lie. When I open them up, and I see a tendon that’s shredded I know it is steroids. A natural tendon rupture is cleaner. It’s easy to set right.” Steroids, says Dr Ponraj, weaken muscle fibres, which is why they erupt in a more ragged manner. “The problem is that people taking steroids cannot stop.
Once they heal from the surgery, they return to steroids to bulk up. The problem is if the tendons rupture again, there’s only a 25% chance of complete recovery.” The incident isn’t rare and complications are not just tendon injuries. In many cases, complications of steroid abuse have been life-threatening. On Wednesday, a 25-year-old bodybuilder and gym trainer, A Akash from Avadi, died due to suspected excessive intake of steroids. A gym trainer, Akash fell sick on March 22 and was treated in a private hospital in Thandalam. Hospital sources said he was brought in with an enlarged heart caused by heart failure.
“He developed kidney and liver failure despite intensive care and died. The drugs he had taken had affected almost all of his organs,” a doctor says. Steroids are cheap, costing just `50 a shot and can be bought at local pharmacies, most often without a prescription or even with a prescription from a physiotherapist. “It is a vicious circle. Trainers and nutritionists pre – scribe it because their clients demand instant gratification. Most people who take them are aware of the side effects it can cause,” says former strength and conditioning coach of Indian Cricket Team Ramji Srinivasan, founder director Sports Dynamix.
While these substances are banned by formal and competitive sports organisers, smaller organisers who offer big cash prizes don’t do dope tests. Tamil Nadu Amateur Bodybuilding Association says it runs seminars educating bodybuilders about steroid abuse. “We run awareness programmes at every government-organised event as well,” says association general secretary M Arasu. Still, steroid use is rampant among youngsters getting into bodybuilding. While drug and steroid checks happen at government events, there are several privately held unregulated championships where there are no such rules in place. Also, the prize money is high, so the athletes give in to bulking up using steroids.”

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