On February 9, 2017, Russian track star Mariya Savinova was stripped of the gold medal she won at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Savinova won the 800-meter event, defeating second-place finisher Caster Semenya by 1.04 seconds. Semenya, from South Africa, had in the past been accused of being a man, although chromosome tests seem to have confirmed her female sex, although the results were never publicly released. Savinova was found to have used the anabolic steroid drugs, testosterone and oxandrolone (Anavar) for over three years. Indeed, the World Anti-Doping Agency suggested a lifetime ban for Savinova back in November 2015. Savinova must surely have been convinced that using the illegal anabolic steroid drugs would aid her athletic performance. She certainly didn't use the drugs to beef up her muscle size, as is the case with most competitive bodybuilders who use the drugs. What is it about anabolic steroids that would make her and other elite athletes believe that the drugs were worth using even with the risk of ending their athletic careers?
Savinova isn't alone in her belief about the athletic benefits of using anabolic steroids. The number of athletic scandals related to athletes failing drug tests for steroids is significant, to put it mildly. There doesn't seem to be any sport where steroid use hasn't shown up. Steroid usage has been detected in bowlers and in those who play competitive chess. In the usual scenario, an athlete is accused of using steroids through failing standard tests used to screen for the presence of anabolic steroids but staunchly denies it. This is particularly true if the athlete has passed prior drug testing procedures. A notable example of this was the former 7-time winner of the grueling Tour de France race, American cyclist Lance Armstrong. Armstrong claimed innocence for years, despite ongoing rumors of his extensive drug use. He was a sympathetic figure to many people, having come back from having testicular cancer to once again emerge as the premier cyclist in the world. When Armstrong looked into the cameras and vigorously denied ever using any kind of performance-enhancing drug (PED), he appeared completely convincing. Off-camera, however, Armstrong wasn't such a nice guy, exuding a great deal of arrogance to his teammates and others. I was even convinced of his innocence myself. I had written an article about Armstrong's amazing genetics for cycling, his sky-high maximal oxygen intake, and seemingly invulnerability to fatigue. Little did I know at the time that I was duped by Armstrong's surreptitious use of a wide variety of PEDs, including his technique of using low-dose testosterone that allowed him to pass standard drug screens for the drug. Armstrong's teammate Floyd Landis won the Tour de France in 2006 but was also later busted for having been found positive for testosterone usage. The standard test for testosterone measures a . . .