Stanozolol is the chemical name for the man-made anabolic steroid marketed as Winstrol®. It is derived from the naturally-occurring hormone testosterone. Though approved for human use in the United States by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its use is highly controversial and it is banned as an illegal performance-enhancer in most professional sports worldwide.
Stanozolol was originally developed in the 1960s, and is available in several different forms, most notably as an injected solution or oral tablets. It has numerous legitimate, clinical uses for both humans and animals, and, in particular, has been shown to be effective in treating anemia. Unfortunately, stanozolol is far more notorious for its illicit uses among athletes, weight lifters, and even in race horses.
An anabolic steroid, it works by increasing the protein synthesis of cells. Continued use results, ultimately, in greatly enhanced muscle growth. While this makes it an effective tool in combating the effects of anemia and other degenerative conditions, it also makes it an attractive performance-enhancing, muscle-building substance.
The most common way it is used inappropriately is in conjunction with other anabolic steroids, as part of a muscle growth cycle. Specifically, it is employed during the cutting phase of this process, in which a bodybuilder eliminates his body's water weight and other non-lean mass, while retaining as much pure muscle as possible. Its popularity stems from its success in preserving and creating muscle, without the associated non-lean weight gain.
Like other anabolic steroids, stanozolol presents a host of negative side effects. These range from the relatively minor, such as acne, to the more severe, like liver and heart failure. In males, anabolic steroid use can also lead to shrunken testicles, infertility, and baldness. Steroid use can also pose unique dangers for adolescents, including stunted growth and permanent, dangerous changes to the structure of the heart.
Despite its dangers and status as a controlled substance, stanozolol remains a popular performance-enhancing drug. It is notorious in the United States and elsewhere for its use by professional and amateur athletes. Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal, won at the 1988 Olympics, for testing positive for the drug, after winning the 100-meter dash. Former baseball stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have both long been suspected of using steroids, including stanozolol. In fact, Winstrol® is one of the main drugs at the core of the steroids scandal that has greatly affected Major League Baseball® in the U.S., and caused the period from around 1990 to the mid-2000s, in the sport, to be known as the "steroids era."