Hm, I might have had a misconception brought to my attention the other day when I was rereading through an old copy of Bill Pearl’s Getting Stronger, that came out in the 80s.
Within Pearl’s section on steroids he reminisces about his experiences and the culture which he participated in, in the late 50s into the early 70s. According to him steroids appeared on the bodybuilding scene in 1958, around which time he began taking (though apparently stopped). Though roids were primitive and limited (he mentions only one) he reports his strength and mass gains significantly improved, even too much so.
He acknowledges that by the 60s the drug culture was already well developed within competitive bodybuilding.
I always thought that, apparently incorrectly, that the Golden Age referred not just to an aesthetic but to an ethic, that of drug-free fitness and development.