The illicit sale of steroids or performance enhancing drugs is a booming business. Fuelled by the anonymity of the internet and the desires of athletes desperate to pump themselves up, a number of seemingly above-board companies have sprung up, operating on global web-based marketplaces.
Anabolic steroids are classified as controlled substances in the US and it is illegal to manufacture, sell, purchase or possess them unless there is a legitimate medical reason. Performance enhancement is not considered a legitimate reason, hence the popularity of black market goods, which can be obtained cheaply and easily. Although in the past they could be bought through gyms from unscrupulous dealers operating brazenly, nowadays it is the internet which rules.
However, the history of steroid use goes back a lot further than most people might imagine. Greek Olympians used strychnine and hallucinogenic mushrooms in order to prepare for events while 1886 saw the first known death of an athlete related to performance enhancing drug use, when a French cyclist died after using a speedball, a mix of cocaine and heroin.
The 1920s saw the insertion of monkey testicles into male athletes in order to improve vitality while the 1930s saw the invention of a synthetic form of testosterone which was given to men who couldn’t produce enough naturally. It was later given to malnourished soldiers in World War II to help them put on weight and to improve their performance and Adolf Hitler is believed to have given himself and his soldiers testosterone in order to enhance their aggressiveness. After several Soviet athletes performed extremely well in the 1956 Olympics while using testosterone, an American scientist subsequently created what are now known today as anabolic steroids.
They proved immensely popular with both professional athletes and those at a high school and university level, but it wasn’t until 1975 that the use of steroids was banned at an Olympic level. Following this ban, a black market sprang up and eventually led, in 1988, to the first major regulation of steroids and later the Anabolic Steroid Enforcement Act of 1990, which placed certain products on Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. A series of revelations over professional athletes using steroids in competition, including Ben Johnson in the 1988 Olympics, raised the issue in the public eye, but despite such restrictions and high profile cases, black market sales of steroids are believed to be worth well into the hundreds of millions of dollars today.
Over 700000 parcels a day come flooding through John F Kennedy International Airport but as customs officials are now realising, many of them contain illegal drugs destined for the US but which have their origins in China and elsewhere. Much of what is being transported gets through, due to the sheer number of parcels which must be checked and the difficulty of confirming what lies inside, but several significant discoveries have been made in recent years which paint an alarming picture of drug abuse in the United States.
You can read more of this article in our April 2015 issue of ModelsMania
Steroids in the black market