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.
For example, anabolic steroids such as Testosterone have a tendency to promote water retention through their ability to be aromatized into Estrogen via the aromatase enzyme. While such an effect might not be a concern for a strength athlete or a powerlifter (such an effect might even be beneficial or desired in such sports), this is not a desired effect for athletes involved in sports that involve speed and swiftness, such as sprinting. Instead, a sprinter, for example, would more likely opt for an anabolic steroid such as Stanozolol ( Winstrol ) or Oxandrolone ( Anavar ), which are two anabolic steroids unable to convert into Estrogen and therefore the issue of water retention, and therefore the issue of added weight that would slow the athlete down is avoided. Many athletes may also elect to ‘stack’ anabolic steroids in a given cycle (stacking refers to the practice of combining more than one anabolic steroid in a cycle). In the case of cycle stacks, an individual might be able to increase the synergy and synergistic effects between the anabolic steroids to create a highly anabolic environment or to create a stack that might assist the user in favoring certain particular athletic or physique goals. These are some of the major reasons as to why the development of different types of steroids has been done.