Prevalence of Use of Anabolic Steroids by Bodybuilders Using Three Methods in a City of Iran

Document Type : Original Article(s)


1 PhD Student, Department of Exercise Physiology, School of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Urmia, Urmia, Iran

2 MSc Student, Department of Exercise Biomechanics, School of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

3 Professor, Neuroscience Research Center, Institute of Neuropharmacology, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran


Background: The prevalence of substance use among bodybuilding athletes has been poorly studied in Iran. This study was conducted to examine the prevalence of drug use, especially anabolic steroids, among bodybuilding athletes. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in the first half of 2013 among body building athletes referring to gyms located in Kerman, Iran. Five gyms were selected randomly and 380 athletes were invited to complete a self-administered anonymous questionnaire, consecutively. The questionnaire included two parts; baseline characteristics and substance related questions. The prevalence of anabolic steroids was estimated based on three methods; self-report, projective question, and crosswise model. Findings: We enrolled 298 male athletes in the final analysis. Mean ± SD age of subjects was 25.9 ± 8.4. The most frequent recent (past 30 days) drug use was waterpipe smoking (45%). The second most frequently used drug was alcohol (26.5%, recent use). Based on self-reports, the prevalence of lifetime anabolic steroid use was calculated to be 24.5%. The corresponding figure based on crosswise method was obtained to be 56.8%. Participants believed that a median of 40% of athletes had used anabolic steroids in their lifetime. The prevalence of anabolic steroid was higher in single and less educated individuals (P < 0.05). The main reason for using anabolic steroids was to increase muscle size. Conclusion: The prevalence of drug use, especially tobacco, alcohol, and anabolic steroids, was high among bodybuilding athletes. We could not rely on self-reports to examine anabolic steroid use. Keywords: Substance abuse, Anabolic steroids, Athletes, Iran