New research suggests that athletes taking steroids in the short term can benefit their entire career.
Experiments in mice have shown that short exposure to testosterone allows them to quickly gain muscle mass later in life.
The researcher behind the study claims that if a similar effect can be shown in humans, it should lead to a lifetime ban on drug addicts.
The research has been published in the Journal of Physiology.
Norwegian researchers have already published a work demonstrating the existence of “muscle memory”.
This suggested that if people exercised when they were young, their muscles became lighter when they exercised later in life.
The same team has now analyzed the effect of short exposure to testosterone on mice.
They found that three months after the withdrawal, their muscles had increased by 30% after six days of training. The control group of mice showed an increase of only 6% over the same period.
“It is rare to have such clear information, I was quite happy with it,” Professor Kristian Gundersen of the University of Oslo told BBC News.
He explained that the drugs increase the number of cell nuclei in muscle fibers.
Ten years of advantage
These nuclei are the key to building muscle strength when humans exercise, and studies in mice suggest that these extra nuclei obtained with the help of testosterone remain long lasting.
Professor Gundersen believes the same applies to humans.
Despite the long-held belief that steroid users lose the benefits of drugs when they stop taking them, Norwegian research suggests that even short-term exposure to steroids can have a long-term effect.
“If it’s enough to build muscle mass, I think it would be enough to achieve that long-term effect. I think it may take 10 years, but I don’t have any data to back it up. That would be my speculation. that it does, he says.
The Norwegians believe their research calls into question the current proposal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to increase the sentence for drug addicts from two to four years.
“In science if you cheat you lose a life and my personal opinion is that athletes should be the same,” he said.
“It’s a tough business, but if you’re really cheating I think it’s reasonable.”
The team received a grant from Wad to do more in-depth research on people. They are developing protocols for a study involving students from a sports school in Oslo.
The research is a continuation of the work carried out in Sweden in recent years.
Researchers found that weightlifters who stopped taking steroids had an advantage in their sport years after they stopped taking them.
The researchers found that weightlifters who had previously taken medication had a comparable number of cell nuclei in the quadriceps than athletes who currently performed high-intensity training.