Baseline characteristics of the HAARLEM study: 100 male amateur athletes using anabolic androgenic steroids

Baseline characteristics of the HAARLEM study : 100 male amateur athletes using anabolic androgenic steroids / D.L. Smit, O. de Hon, B.J. Venhuis, M. den Heijer, W. de Ronde. - (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2019) 30 October); p. 1-30).

  • PMID: 31663164.
  • DOI: 10.1111/sms.13592


The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is common among visitors of fitness centers. Knowledge about health risks of AAS use is limited due to lack of clinical studies.

One hundred men, at least 18 years old, intending to start a cycle of AAS were recruited. Baseline demographical data and reasons for AAS use were recorded. Subjects provided samples of AAS for analysis with UPLC-QTOF-MS/MS.

One hundred and eleven men were seen for a baseline visit. Nineteen percent had competed in bodybuilding competitions. Recent illicit drug use was reported by 56%. Seventy-seven percent of participants had used AAS in the past and 97% of them had experienced side effects. After exclusion, 100 men comprised the cohort for follow-up. The AAS cycle performed had a median duration of 13 weeks (range 2-52) and the average dose of AAS equivalents was 901 mg per week (range 250-3.382). Subjects used other performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) such as growth hormone (21%). In total 272 AAS samples were analyzed and 47% contained the AAS indicated on the label. The principal reason for AAS use was gain of muscle mass (44%). Forty-eight percent self-reported to being addicted to AAS.

The HAARLEM-study cohort shows that strength athletes use AAS in a wide variety of cycles and often also use illicit drugs and other potentially harmful PIEDs. The quality of the AAS used is strikingly low. Follow-up of the cohort will provide novel data regarding health risks of AAS use.


Research / Study
30 October 2019
Heijer, Martin den
Hon, Olivier de
Ronde, Willem (Pim) de
Smit, Diederik L.
Venhuis, Bastiaan J.
Other organisations
Academisch Medisch Centrum (AMC) - Academic Medical Center
Dopingautoriteit - Doping Authority Netherlands
Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) - National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
Spaarne Gasthuis - Spaarne Hospital
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
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Addiction / dependence
Substance use research
Gym/fitness environment
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Date generated
23 October 2019
Date of last modification
10 February 2021
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