Background: Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone (testosterone) that are increasingly used by athletes as performance enhancing drugs to increase muscle mass and strength. Multiple health adverse effects may be caused by its non-medical use. Several international and regional studies showed the high prevalence of AAS usage and low level of awareness of it among different populations.
Objective: To estimate the prevalence of AAS and to determine the level of awareness toward it among gymnasts in the western province of Riyadh. 
Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire distributed on 400 male gymnasts from 10 different fitness centers which have been chosen randomly from 23 centers in the western province of Riyadh city (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) during 2016. Data analysis was performed by SPSS version 21, using descriptive statistics and Chi-square test.
Results: Among the 400 gymnasts who participated in the survey, a total of n=363 questionnaires were received completed. Of the responders, (n=89) were AAS users with a percentage 24.50%. The testosterone was the most commonly used type followed by Methandrostenolone then Stanozolol. The major sources for obtaining AAS were online shopping (45%) and gym-coach (22.5%). Regarding awareness, 74% of AAS users had an inadequate perception about AAS concept versus 55% of non-users with no significant difference (p=0.076). In addition, 82% of AAS users and 83% of non-users had inadequate knowledge of AAS adverse effects with no significant difference between the two categories (p=0.087).
Conclusion: The usage of AAS is high amongst gymnasts in the western province of Riyadh city considering they are prohibited. The level of awareness toward AAS is low among most gymnasts. We recommend for educational programs to be established in order to increase public awareness, in addition to a tightening of control by the responsible authorities over the sources of AAS procurement.


Keywords: Gymnastics, Androgens, Synthetic, AAS, Substance abuse, Performance enhancing drugs


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