WASHINGTON — Throw out those androstenedione products right now; as of today, they’re illegal to own.

Starting Thursday, federal regulators will classify the pro-hormone androstenedione as a schedule III controlled substance, meaning purchase and possession of the body-building product is permitted only with a doctor’s prescription.

Department of Defense officials said any servicemember caught with the chemical will be in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Androstenedione supplements, which produce extra testosterone when ingested, have been available over the counter for years as a way to increase muscle mass, and gained extra attention after Mark McGwire admitted to using the pro-hormone during his record-setting 1998 baseball season.

But Col. Vincent F. Carr, the Air Force’s chief consultant for internal medicine services, said the classification change of the drug reflects the dangerous side effects federal regulators have discovered in the last few years.

“It’s the classic symptoms of too much testosterone: In men, it’s too much aggression, blood pressure increase, cholesterol increase, increased likelihood of coronary disease, and testicular atrophy,” he said. “The female problems are things like male pattern baldness and hypertension, as well as the blood pressure and coronary disease.”

Androstenedione is available by prescription, but Carr called that merely a classification issue. He said no doctor would prescribe more than 20 mg of the chemical, and that is too small an amount to produce muscle-building results.

Carr said he does not anticipate the new ban creating any significant problems for troops. Military exchanges across the globe phased out the last of their andro products more than a month ago, and Carr said he hasn’t heard many recent reports of andro use or abuse.

“We still get folks once in a while who buy it and use it, but for the vast majority of the military it isn’t an issue,” Carr said. “Once the word got out that these substances were problems, many just stopped using them.”

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