The legal status of anabolic steroids varies from country to country. In the ., anabolic steroids are listed as Schedule III controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act , which makes the possession of such substances without a prescription a federal crime punishable by up to seven years in prison.  In Canada, anabolic steroids and their derivatives are part of the Controlled drugs and substances act and are Schedule IV substances, meaning that it is illegal to obtain or sell them without a prescription. However, possession is not punishable, a consequence reserved for schedule I, II or III substances. Those guilty of buying or selling anabolic steroids in Canada can be imprisoned for up to 18 months. Importing or exporting anabolic steroids also carry similar penalties.  Anabolic steroids are also illegal without prescription in Australia,  Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal,  and are listed as Schedule 4 Controlled Drugs in the United Kingdom.
The gains made by athletes in uncontrolled observations have been much more impressive. Weight gains of thirty or forty pounds, coupled with thirty percent increases in strength, are not unusual. Such case studies lack credibility because of the absence of scientific controls. However, it would be foolish to completely disregard such observations because the "subjects" have been highly trained and motivated see the articles on pharmacology of sport and sports medicine in the countries of the former Soviet Union for more information on anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids do have legitimate medical uses. They were first synthesized in the 1930s to treat underdeveloped testes and resulting testosterone deficiency. In the 1950s, they were used to treat anemia and muscle-wasting disorders and to bulk up patients whose muscles had atrophied from extended bed rest. In the 1960s, anabolic steroids were used to treat some forms of dwarfism. Today anabolic steroids are being studied for their ability to alleviate the extreme body wasting associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Their most common use, however, remains among athletes seeking a quick competitive edge.