Dr. Gary Wadler, professor at New York University School of Medicine and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, answers SI's questions on steroids.
How much time passes before a player is no longer reaping the benefits of steroids?
It can be months. Even after the drugs are out of his system, he can feel the effects and reap the benefits. If a player stopped two to three weeks before spring training, the benefits still could last well into the season.
How much time must pass before steroids become undetectable by testing?
That is totally a function of the steroid. It can vary from a few weeks to a matter of months, depending on what the steroids are and how they are taken. The delivery system is very important with regard to detection. The injected, oil-based Deca-Durabolin, the granddaddy of them all, can stay in the system for as long as nine months. The water-soluble types can be detectable for many weeks. For the oral types, the spectrum is quite broad, from weeks to months. Skin patches and creams are available now, and their detectability is much shorter in duration.
There's been a lot of talk about fluctuations in certain players' weights. Is significant weight loss directly related to the cessation of steroid use?
That's a real possibility, but if someone loses 20 pounds, is it a cessation of steroid use, a cessation of creatine use or a change in workout regimen or diet? There are so many factors contributing to weight change that to assume someone has lost X amount of weight due to a cessation of steroid use is a dangerous leap.
After a steroid user has lost a significant amount of weight, is he still reaping the benefits of the steroid?
If he continues to work out, yes. Depending on the steroid, he could still be getting the muscle-building effects of it for months.
Besides weight loss, what happens to the body when an athlete suddenly stops after regular usage?