Do Anabolic Steroids Show Up on Drug Tests?

Whether or not they show up on drug tests depends on the type of test you take.

Almost all athletes and bodybuilders are subject to specialized drug tests, which check primarily for their presence.

Sporting Events

If you are a competitive bodybuilder, or if you play a competitive sport, then chances are high that you may be subject to anabolic steroid testing.

In fact, some locales test their athletes even at the high school and university levels since they believe they provide an unfair advantage to those who use them.

If this is the case, your coach (or the organization under which you compete) will inform you of the drug testing guidelines.

They may even give you a list of all of the compounds they test for, although it is safe to say that if a test detects one steroid, it will detect them all.

Pre-Employment Screening

Another major concern among users is whether employers test for them during their common pre-employment drug screenings.

Once again, this all comes down to the employer’s preference and how much the organization is willing to pay for your test. 

Remember that tests are quite expensive, so very few employers include them in their normal screens.

What’s more, you should also remember that some of the employers that check for use only pay for a testosterone level check.

This means that if your testosterone levels are high, the company assumes they are in your system.

There is no way to “beat” these tests.

anabolic steroids show up on drug tests

Drug Court or Legal Probation Screening

If drug court or drug screening is part of your probation terms and ordered by the court, then it is hard to say whether testing comes into play. 

For the most part, court-ordered screenings cover only recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, opiates, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and some others. 

Once again, testing is quite expensive, and since many court systems expect their probationers to pay their own fees, they do not expect them to come up with more than $100 for each test.

In areas where anabolic steroids are viewed as “problematic”, or if the offense leading to the probation, then testing is likely.

Military and Government Employees

Military and government employees are often subject to random testing just like employees in any other setting.

However, even at these levels, the odds of being tested without probable cause is unlikely.

This simply means that, even in the military, anabolic steroid screening is not likely unless there is sufficient evidence to suggest that you use them – or unless you are facing legal action for possessing, selling, or buying them.

In this case, the odds of steroid screening are quite high.

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

Without providing actual legal information, the truth is that the definition of probable cause varies from organization to organization.

In some cases, simply being more muscular than the average person may lead an employer or coach to believe you are Juicing, which could result in testing. 

In other cases, knowingly associating with someone who has been found guilty of doping may also be probable cause for testing.

Finally, things like sudden improvements in your performance, quick weight gain, or a “ripped” appearance that appears out of the blue are classic signs of steroid use, and these may lead to trouble.

What Kind of Testing Is It?

To answer the question, “Do they show up on drug tests?” it’s important to consider the type of drug test.

In almost all cases, these tests look for highly elevated levels of testosterone. They are testosterone derivatives, so they will show up much like testosterone during testing.

If your test levels are only slightly elevated due to age, diet, activity, etc., you have very little to fear. 

Keep in mind that the at the high end, normal testosterone levels stop at just over 1000 nanograms per deciliter.

Bodybuilders and athletes who use exogenous types often raise their testosterone levels to 5000 nanograms per deciliter – well over normal.

This is what leads to warning bells and can cause you to “fail” a drug screen.

Anabolic Steroid Test

Urine, Blood, or Hair – Which Is Which?

Do they show up in drug tests conducted on urine, blood, and hair?

The answer is yes on all three counts, but again, the method used often comes down to cost. 

Urine tests are generally the least expensive of the options, followed in cost by blood tests and follicle testing.

Urine testing is less accurate than the other methods, with follicle testing able to detect drug use for as long as 90 days in the past.

Sometimes, these tests look for testosterone, but in other cases, they look for very specific steroid metabolites that only show up in the bloodstream after Steroid Use. 

In the US, the most common form of testing is more sophisticated than any of these three.

It’s called antibody-antigen based radioimmunoassay.

This term may sound complicated, but simply put, it uses a series of antibodies to seek out and measure the concentrations of antigens in the body.

Hormones are considered antigens for this purpose, and the test is surprisingly accurate.

If an individual tests positive, though, chromatography is performed.

This process passes either blood or urine through a very specific medium to measure the rates at which different components move.

It is even more accurate than the radioimmunoassay procedure, and is used mostly by anti-doping agencies.

How Long are They Detectable?

The length of time a steroid is detectible in the body varies based on the steroid itself, your body’s metabolism, and the means of testing.

In general, though, the list below provides an accurate representation of detection times.

SteroidDetection Time
5 Months
Winstrol Tabs
3 Weeks
4-5 Months
3 Weeks
5 Weeks
Deca Durabolin
18 Months
8 Weeks
Andriol (Testosterone Undecanoate)
1 Week
5 Months
3 Weeks
12 Weeks
1-2 Days
4-5 Weeks
Masteron Enanthate
12 Weeks

In short, they can and do show up on drug tests, but they are expensive tests and most organizations do not include them in their standard drug screens.

Nonetheless, testing is more likely if you are an athlete, facing legal action for using, in the military, or a government employee.

How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System?

If there’s one question that bodybuilders and athletes ask before starting a cycle with anabolic steroids, it’s “how long do steroids stay in your system?”

The answer can vary based on the steroid being used, so understanding more about steroid half-lives can help you decide which steroid is the best choice for your needs. Included below is also a detection table.

What Is a Half-Life?

A steroid’s half-life is the amount of time it takes before half of the steroid introduced into your body is gone.

This can provide some insight into the amount of time that a particular compound will stay in your system, as well.

Different steroids have different half-lives, and the longer the half-life, the longer it will take for the compound to exit your system completely.

  • Anadrol – 16 hours or less
  • Andriol (testosterone undecanoate) – 8 hours or less
  • Dianabol – 6 to 8 hours for oral; 60-72 hours for injectable
  • Halotestin – 6 to 8 hours
  • Anavar – 8 to 12 hours
  • Primobolan (tablets)– 4 to 6 hours
  • Winstrol (tablets) – 8 hours
  • Equipoise – 7 to 9 days
  • Masteron (enanthate) – 8 days
  • Masteron (propionate) – 2 to 3 days
  • Primobolan Depot (injectable) – 10 to 14 days
  • Winstrol Depot (injectable) – 48 hours
  • Deca Durabolin – 14 to 16 days
  • Trenbolone – 2 to 3 days

Testosterone Half-Lives

Most athletes pair their anabolic steroids with a testosterone base, and just like steroids, different testosterone esters have different half-lives, as well.

  • Acetate – 48 hours
  • Propionate – 72 hours
  • Cypionate – 16 days
  • Enanthate – 8 days
  • Suspension – about 24 hours

As such, athletes who are concerned with Steroid Testing and detection often avoid testosterone esters with longer half-lives, such as testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate, and instead stick to those that leave the system much more quickly.

Half-Lives Associated with Common Supplements

In some cases, a steroid test may also look for common supplements used during a steroid cycle or afterward as part of post-cycle therapy.

  • Arimidex – 4 to 6 hours
  • Clomid – 8 to 12 hours
  • HCG – 64 hours
  • Nolvadex – less than 24 hours
  • Clenbuterol <– as long as 68 hours

Half-Life vs. Detection Times

Of course, to answer the question “how long Do Steroids stay in your system”, it is important to understand that a compound’s half-life is not the same as its detection time. Remember that a half-life is the length of time at which half of the active compound has left the body.

Detection time, on the other hand, describes the length of time between when a substance is introduced into the body and when it could show up on a steroid test.

Although there are some very complicated equations that you could use to calculate the detection times associated with just about any exogenous compound you use, it is best to refer to a list compiled by thousands of bodybuilders (below).

Factors that Influence Detection Times

Before using any list of detection times to determine whether you are “safe” to take a steroid test, it is important to remember that there are a number of factors that could determine how long a steroid remains in your bloodstream.

These include things from the length of time you used a particular steroid to the potency of the drug, particularly if you acquired it from a dealer at a gym or in a country where steroids are not bound to strict regulations.

What’s more, your own unique tolerance to a steroid, your fluid intake, and your body’s metabolism can all play a role in determining how long it will take before the steroid is no longer detectable in your body.

When asking “How long Do Steroids stay in your system?” the following factors will all play the most important roles, so be sure to consider them carefully.

The type of steroid you use. Simply put, it is easier to get away with bodybuilding doses of some steroids than it is others.

Testosterone Suspension with no ester can be completely gone in as little as 24 hours, but testosterone enanthate may hang on for months.

Think about this before you decide on a steroid to use in your next cycle.

The properties of the steroid itself. Some steroids create markers that are highly identifiable in your urine; others are only highly identifiable in your blood.

To put this into perspective, Winstrol and Deca Durabolin are considered among the most “dangerous” steroids for those who are subject to any sort of urine screening. It is very rare for any organization to use a blood test for steroids, as well, so keep this in mind.

Dose and cycle length.

For obvious reasons, the more steroid you use and the longer you use it will also increase your detection risks and lengthen your detection times.

The more you take, the more your body must process out, and the more Stress this puts on your body.

This means that if you’re using doses higher than recommended, you may actually be slowing your body’s ability to metabolize that substance out.

Oral versus injectable delivery.

For the most part, oral steroids reach peak levels in your blood faster, so they’re faster to completely leave your body, too.

The hormone is alkylated so it can be processed through the liver, which puts it into your bloodstream much more quickly.

Injectable steroids are much the opposite; they release more slowly into the bloodstream and take more time to filter out.

The steroid’s ability to metabolize.

Some steroids are very resistant to being metabolized, which means they will not only stay in your body for a very long time, but they will also show up in your urine in large amounts for a long time, too.

Trenbolone is one of the biggest offenders in this category; it is not easily metabolized by the body, and it creates urine markers that are unmistakable, even weeks after your last dose.

The steroid’s fat solubility.

For all intents and purposes, anabolic steroids are lipids, which makes them fat soluble.

As a result, traces of the steroids you use will absorb into your body’s fat stores, and their metabolites can stay there for weeks or even months.

In fact, it’s possible for some steroids, like Deca Durabolin, to be detected for well over a year after use.

Detection Times of Popular Steroids

The table below represents the average detection times associated with popular anabolic steroids, testosterone esters, and supplements commonly used in Bodybuilding or performance enhancement.

These are only averages, and you should therefore use the information found here as a basic guideline.

Also, keep in mind that these detection times are only true for athletes or bodybuilders who may be subject to urine tests; they do not adequately represent detection times for anyone who may be subject to a blood test.

What’s more, hair follicle tests are typically not used for steroid testing.

NameDetection Times
8 Weeks
1 Week
5 Weeks
8 Weeks
3 Weeks
4-5 Weeks
Winstrol (Oral)
3 Weeks
Winstrol Depot
9 Weeks
4-5 Months
Masteron Enanthate
12 Weeks
Masteron Propionate
3 Weeks
Deca Durabolin
18 Months
5 Months
5 Months
3 Weeks
Testosterone Cypionate
12 Weeks
Testosterone Enanthate
5 Months
Testosterone Suspension (No Ester)
1-2 Days
4-6 Days
7-10 Days
2 Weeks
8 Weeks
8 Weeks
how long do steroids stay in your system

Ways to Beat Steroid Tests

The internet is filled with tips and tricks for beating anabolic steroid tests, but for the most part, none of these truly work. In the early- to mid-2000s, a number of “designer” steroids that were supposed to be undetectable showed up on the market, and while they did seem to get by testing for a while, it wasn’t long before the tests themselves became more sophisticated.

These days, the only true way to beat a steroid test is to keep half-lives and detection times in mind, then plan your cycle based on your potential test dates.

With this information in mind, people will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid the risks associated with steroid detection times.

Most simply stop using steroids in enough time to pass naturally, but others will go to extremes.

Unfortunately, most of these are quite risky, and a few are downright uncomfortable.

None of them are recommended. It’s better to ask yourself, “How long do steroids stay in your system?” and make the appropriate arrangements.

Using fake urine –

Fake urine comes in both liquid and powder form, and while it was the go-to means of overriding steroid detection times for many years, tests these days are sophisticated enough to tell the urine isn’t real.

Using someone else’s urine –

Sometimes individuals will ask someone “clean” to provide a urine sample, then carry it with them.

This comes with its own risks, and it only works if you will have privacy during the test. In most cases, a medical professional is in the room with you as you provide your sample, so this is not a solution.

Bladder loading –

Some people have gone so far as to “load” someone else’s clean urine into their bladders using a catheter, but this creates a serious risk for infection and does not guarantee you will skate by the steroid detection times.

Drug masking agents –

Drug masking agents don’t lower steroid detection times; rather, they are designed to prevent certain substances from showing up on tests.

However, many screenings can now pick up on these agents, too.

What About HGH? Is it Truly Undetectable?

There are many rumors circulating the internet and athletic/bodybuilding crowds that HGH is completely undetectable in any standard steroid test.

However, this is not the case.

In all actuality, there are some highly specialized tests out there that can quantify HGH anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after the last injection.

As such, should you choose to supplement with HGH, keep this in mind.

How long do steroids stay in your system?

The answer varies based on several different factors, including the steroid you used, the length of time you used it, and your body’s unique chemistry.

Although there are no tried-and-true ways to effectively beat a steroid test, you can use information about these compounds’ half-lives and detection times to your advantage.