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Monday, September 24, 2007

Drugs In Sports: A Quick Primer

We are a bit bored this morning, and rather than enlighten you with righteous input on the world of sports, we thought we'd share some practical information that might help you understand some of the things that are coming to light as federal agencies more deeply investigate performance enhancement drugs in sports, and society in general.

First of all, what they are FINALLY discovering now is nothing new.

The DEA has connected China to its series of raids on longevity, revitalization, aging....or whatever you would like to call those clinics that are sources for human growth hormone and other hormonal therapies.

For years, steroids and hGH have been available on the internet. Prior to 9/11, ordering them took little to no effort. Ordering from foreign sources in countries that steroids were not a controlled substance was simple and easy. Customs was not as efficient or concerned about things prior to the terrorist attacks, and getting the drugs in was as simple as ordering from an online pharmacy located in a country like Romania.

The events of 9/11 had a major impact on the underground world of steroids and PED's. Now, customs was on the alert and ordering put you at greater risk.

Mexico has always been a source, as veterinary steroids are accessible at farmacias with little problem. Getting them back to the US is a risk, however.

One of the solutions has been to turn to China. 'Underground' labs in the US clandestinely work with China suppliers to import base powders which come to the US camouflaged and trickily packed to conceal what they are. Once they arrive here, the operators of the 'underground' labs follow the simple recipes to concoct home made deca, test and all the others. They slap a nice label on them, oft times counterfeit labels of legit pharmaceutical grade products. But, many underground labs which aren't really labs at all - more often than not they are just set ups in someones kitchen or garage - label their products as their own and gain followings on internet steroid and bodybuilding boards.

Places like are fertile fields for those wanting to find contacts, foreign and domestic, to purchase steroids. The game is one of patience. You bide your time and make friends on the board, and eventually you will build up the credibility to start asking board 'vets' who the 'sources' are. And in time, you have a line on getting what you desire.

The problem is this: You have no way of knowing what you are actually getting.

This is an underground game, all about making money. It's a fair estimate that 75% or more of steroids purchased on the black market are counterfeit. Now, counterfeit doesn't mean they aren't steroids. It just means that they aren't the pharmaceutical grade product one would generally want to inject or ingest in their bodies.

So, this is a game of risk. You have no confirmation that what you are taking is in fact sterile. No confirmation that it is the efficacy indicated on the label. No confirmation that it is even what is on the label.

We've heard stories of people ordering winstol tablets. Winstrol is a steroid usually used for lean gains, or cutting up the physique. Well, one would not expect to put on a bunch of weight and strength or to get the puffy, water-logged face associated with heavy androgens like dianabol when taking winstrol. However, we've heard stories of just that happening. So, clearly, you don't really know what you are getting.

And that is the huge problem in all this.

It's one thing for athletes who make money hand over fist to gain connections to sources that provide real, pharmaceutical grade products. It's their risk to take the drugs.

The problem arises when high school, college and minor league athletes feel like the only way they can get their chance at the show is to get on drugs also. And they don't have access to doctors that will prescribe them real pharmaceuticals. So they hit the underground market.

Basically, what the Feds are discovering now is nothing new. China (and Thailand) have long been the go to countries for black market performance enhancing drugs. Trying to stop it is a difficult proposition.

The smugglers have been able, over the years, to hide their powders and products quite effectively.

There used to be a source in Thailand that shipped oral steroids in powdered form. The powder was spread on a thick sheet of paper, in a very thin layer. Then covered with another thick sheet of paper. Some sort of adhesive was used to keep them together and the paper was printed on and folded to look like a greeting card. The recipient unfolded the paper, and cut it into squares to make up the proper doses.

But, again, the user can't be sure exactly what and how much he is ingesting.

PED's are part of sports. Have been for a long time. The risk is one assumed by the athlete. The reward can be the payoff of making it to the big leagues.

But the reality is that younger athletes trying to emulate professionals are taking a huge chance with the black market and underground products.

And THAT is why the government cracking down on PED's is so important.

It isn't about the sanctity of the game. Or preserving records.

It's about mitigating the risks that younger athletes feel like they need to take to make it.


Foxxy Brown said...

thanks for this great overview. i believe Rolling Stone magazine did a story years ago about PED use in high school athletics. it was absolutely horrifying. this is why i despise players like Bonds, McGuire etc etc -- they DO bear a higher responsibility than lesser players precisely because young athletes will follow their training/drugging example

Henry the 8th said...

If the users were under medical supervision and getting real steroids and hGH, it wouldn't be such a threat.

But the underground stuff is not safe.