Steroids could have performance-enhancing effects long after their use, according to a Journal of Physiology study on mice.
The study found that exposure to the drug for a short period had “long lasting — possibly permanent” impact on mice’s ability to build muscle in training, according to the Times of London.
“Training studio folklore suggests that people that have once been strong easily can get strong again even after a long de-training period,” University of Oslo Professor Kristian Gundersen, who led the work, reportedly said. “But clearly the findings need to be confirmed in humans.”
In the study, mice were briefly exposed to steroids and had an increase in muscle mass. After three months without steroids, their muscles grew by 30 percent after six days of “load exercise,” according to the Times and the Australian.
Considering that three months is about 15 percent of a mouse’s lifespan, it could translate to at least several years for humans.
“I think there’s some evidence that the effects of anabolic steroids are prolonged, but it depends on the stage of development and growth when they are taken,” Australian Dr. Ken Fitch, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, told the Australian. “We need more research to correlate what we know about the long-term effects in human beings.”
The study comes two months after the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, called for an increase from two- to four-year doping bans.