Anabolic steroids may be illegal in Ireland, but importation of them continues to soar. According to data released by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, or HPRA, steroids accounted for nearly half (47%) of the nearly 1 million prescription drugs seized last year.
Among the 948,925 dosage units that were seized last year, about 450,000 of them were steroids. That’s nearly 12 times the amount seized in 2015.
Sedatives accounted for 23% of the haul, while erectile dysfunction medicine accounted for 13%.
John Lynch, director of compliance at HPRA, said he was concerned about the rising number of seized steroids.
“They have been linked to a range of significant side- effects including liver damage, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes,” Lynch said. “For men, the risks also include reduced sperm count and infertility.”
The HPRA says the import of these medicines into Ireland is illegal and consumers have no guarantee about the safety or quality of the drugs they purchase outside of the regulated pharmaceutical industry.
Performance-enhancing drugs are creating an entirely new group of users, or addicts. In Ireland, Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay drug and homeless services, says steroids are the primary drug problem for 400 people using their needle exchange program.
Rather than chasing a “high,” these users are chasing an image or a performance goal. They are not looking to get “stoned,” but rather, are looking to look a certain way.
Synthetic steroids, like SARMS powder, are also illegal in many countries, but are promoted by athletes and bodybuilders as a way to see quick gains. These drugs are marketed as dietary supplements and are banned in professional and college sports.
In the sports world, “doping” is illegal, yet athletes are routinely found guilty of the practice. Boxer Canelo Alvarez was just suspended for six months by Nevada boxing regulators after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol.
“I hope he’s learned a lesson, that he is responsible with what he puts in his body,” said commission Chairman Anthony Marnell. “And I hope to see him fighting in Nevada soon.
Alvarez contends that his positive test was the result of contaminated beef in Mexico. He has vowed to plead his case to the commission.
In the UK, Yorkshire Carnegie’s flanker Brandon Staples was just suspended for four years after testing positive for three steroids. He tested positive for metandienone, stanozolol and dehydrochloromethyl-testosterone. Staples contends that the positive result was caused by a nutritional drink, according to Helpful Outcome.
Stephen Watkins, Rugby Football Union anti-doping program manager, said, “‘This is the first failed test for a performance-enhancing substance in English professional rugby since 2011 and a reminder to all that we cannot be complacent in our efforts to keep rugby a clean sport.”
Steroids use isn’t exclusive to athletes. In Australia, the former electoral commissioner in Queensland, Walter van der Merwe, was charged over allegations that he had a stash of steroids in his office before stepping down from his position.
Mr. van der Merwe was served a notice to appear in court on charges that he was in possession of a dangerous drug.