When did the first steroids appear in sports? Real story.

At the beginning of the 20th century, no one knew the word “steroids”, and all sports were “natural”. Everything was changed by the doctor of the US Olympic team John Ziegler, who very persistently promoted his “know-how” to the masses – synthetic testosterone …

Steroids in the USSR

The first Serious scientific publications on steroids were dated as early as 1929, but only in 1936 scientists were able to synthesize testosterone from cholesterol. True, the first synthetic testosterone could not be used in humans, since it would have caused death faster than it would have given any anabolic or therapeutic effect. (Yes, yes, testosterone was synthesized at all for sports, but for medical purposes)


The first successful use of testosterone as doping was recorded at the weightlifting championship in Vienna, Austria in 1954.

Sports medicine doctor John Ziegler, from a conversation with a Russian doctor, learned that the USSR weightlifting team uses injections to improve the performance of athletes testosterone .

For you to understand, in those days the Soviet team was invincible, and our athletes set new world records almost every day. Just don’t throw stones at me – it’s a historical fact.

After returning to the US, Ziegler gathers a group of volunteer athletes and begins experiments with testosterone. The result was disastrous – almost all athletes received a pullback in strength and a drop in the level of natural testosterone in the blood. It was clear that the drug was not ready, and it was almost impossible to get a Soviet copy at that time.

Steroids in the USA

In 1955, Ziegler, together with the pharmaceutical company Ciba, began to develop a new testerone-containing drug that would have an anabolic effect and would have fewer side effects. As a result of hard work, in 1956, the drug Dianabol appeared in American pharmacies, which was used to treat some diseases, such as poliomyelitis (by the way, it is not clear why, who is in the “topic”, explain in the comments)


In 1959, Ziegler made another attempt and found athletes who were ready to test “Dianabol” on themselves. And lo and behold !!!! The drug worked !!! Strength indicators increased, training became more effective, and the athletes felt great. One of Ziegler’s “guinea pigs” was Bill Pearl himself – the biggest bodybuilder of the 60s.

After the end of his sports career, Pearl published the book “Get Stronger”, where he described in detail how in 1959 he took “Dinabol” and “Nilevar” (its analogue) and how in 10 weeks he gained 11 kg of pure muscle mass … In the first editions of the book, Pearl described his dosing regimens, training, and nutrition. Later, bodybuilders such as Lee Haney, Franco Colombo, Arnold Scharzenegger and Frank Zane admitted that Pearl’s book became a real “bodybuilding textbook” for them.

Let’s summarize !

  1. Steroids have existed for a very long time, but they have been used in sports only since 1954 in the USSR and 1960 in the USA;
  2. The first bodybuilder to use steroids is unknown, but Bill Pearl was definitely the person who taught the whole world to take them;
  3. Anyone who believes that steroids have been used in the United States since the 1940s are deeply mistaken, since their use in those years would have had no effect and would most likely have been fatal;
  4. Thus, there is every reason to believe that bodybuilders of the 40s – 50s, such as Clarence Ross, Steve Reeves, Reg Park, Jack Dehlinger and others, are “natural” athletes.

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