It was decades later that the secret behind this spectacular success became known. The East German Sports Federation had, with the help of the Stasi, used Performance Enhancing Drugs or PEDs to ensure that their athletes gained international recognition by winning the Olympic events. This systematic plan had been initiated in 1974 as a means to guarantee international glory through the achievement of gold medals at the prestigious sporting event. Oral- Turinabol , a testosterone derivative was used extensively to improve muscle mass and cut down recovery time. This allowed the German athletes to train harder and longer than other world athletes.
As a non-aromatizing androgen, dihydrotestosterone is extremely potent. Aromatization refers to the conversion of testosterone or anabolic steroids into estrogen. High estrogenic activity causes bloating, acne, water retention and oily skin. As dihydrotestosterone does not aromatize even at high dosages, users do not face the aforementioned side-effects. Lack of water retention also has a hardening effect on muscle tissue, in bodybuilders. Being a powerful androgen, dihydrotestosterone is also responsible for a shift in the estrogen-testosterone ratio in the body. Due to its predominant androgenic component, the steroid has a stimulating effect on the adreno-pituitary functions, and causes neurological excitation in the ‘sexual orientation areas of the brain’. This in turn, spikes sex drive in males.
Neural injections of Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) were applied to males of both groups to test for neurogenesis . Analysis showed that testosterone and dihydrotestosterone regulated adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN). Adult hippocampal neurogenesis was regulated through the androgen receptor in the wild-type male rats, but not in the TMF male rats. To further test the role of activated androgen receptors on AHN, flutamide , an antiandrogen drug that competes with testosterone and dihydrotestosterone for androgen receptors , and dihydrotestosterone were administered to normal male rats. Dihydrotestosterone increased the number of BrdU cells, while flutamide inhibited these cells.