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June 2, 1999

Medical, Legal, and Societal Implications of Androstenedione Use

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Departments of Health Policy and Administration and Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

JAMA. 1999;281(21):2043-2044. doi:10.1001/jama.281.21.2043

Use of the dietary supplement and androgenic steroid hormone androstenedione1 presents a number of questions and challenges. Is it a supplement or a drug? Should youngsters be allowed to use it? Should it be sold over-the-counter? Does it work as advertised? Is it safe?

During the past year, the public was exposed to a barrage of drug scandals in sports. These involved Olympic champions in track and field, swimming, and snowboarding, as well as elite cyclists, a 3-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and a professional tennis player.2 However, of all the drug-related stories in 1998, none received more media attention than home run record holder Mark McGwire's admission that he used androstenedione as a performance-enhancing substance.3

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