Stanozolol, the anabolic steroid that Ben Johnson is accused of having taken, is also known as Winstrol and is a curious choice for a sprinter. Winstrol is primarily used by body builders, who like the muscle definition that the drug promotes. It is not known as a strength-building aid, and weightlifters would not be likely to use it.
According to Dr. Bob Goldman, who administers all the drug testing for the International Federation of Body Builders, Winstrol is the new drug of choice for body builders, who are more concerned with physique than strength.
"I'd bet I see 4 to 1 Winstrol," Goldman said from Chicago. "A lot of women take it because it's not really androgenic (causing masculine side effects). It's popular and easily accessible."
Winstrol is not one of the more powerful steroids, but according to Goldman it may be one of the more detectable.
"Winstrol is the kind of drug that athletes take in conjunction with other drugs," Goldman said. "For that reason, it may be that the combination of chemicals makes Winstrol hang around longer in the system. So, when there is testing, it's Winstrol that shows up. I've seen it stay in the system for as long as 3 months."
The drug Johnson allegedly took was in pill form. It is a water-based drug that is generally flushed from the athlete's system much sooner than oil-based injectable steroids.
Goldman said that often athletes take anabolic steroids to recover from injury. Johnson had a serious hamstring tear several months ago.
"Due to an increase in recovery, some athletes feel it will accelerate healing," he said. "I don't agree with taking anabolic steroids for injury recovery."