UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has called upon the government to make the importation of anabolic steroids illegal. The statement is a strange one since steroid importation was made illegal in the United Kingdom over 5-1/2 years ago with the exception of personal custody.
Pat Myhill, the Director of Operations for UKAD, released the statement as an indicator of the testimony UKAD was prepared to submit to the Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs) Working Group of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs on September 26, 2017.
“Steroids are now so widespread that they aren’t just the preserve of the sporting community anymore – the pursuit of ‘the body beautiful’ means that steroid use is increasing particularly amongst younger men and teenage boys,” Myhill said.
“There are significant harms associated with the use of IPEDs, including heart disease and liver damage, as well as those related to mental health, including aggression and depression.
“We believe the importation and possession – outside of medical use – of these drugs should be made illegal, not only to protect clean sport but a young generation from the serious side effects they can cause.
Certainly, UKAD knows that bodybuilders are no longer legally permitted to import steroids by mail. Steroid importation was criminalized after local steroid laws were amended to reflect the recommendations made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (“ACMD”) prior to the 2012 London Olympics. The amendment went into effect on April 23, 2012.
The “personal custody” exception refers to bodybuilders who bring a personal supply of steroids into the United Kingdom when traveling (e.g. by plane) from another country. Obviously, this is an impractical and a ridiculously expensive way for the average bodybuilder to obtain steroids. And no bodybuilder relies on this avenue to obtain steroids.
Instead of importing steroids, bodybuilders have now resorted to purchasing the muscle-building drugs from domestic underground laboratories (UGLs). The elimination of the “personal custody” exception would have absolutely no impact on steroid use in the UK since no bodybuilders depend on the personal custody exception..
It is hard to believe that UKAD isn’t fully aware of this situation. Most likely, Myhill was referring to the importation of other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) that are not anabolic steroids. For example, the blood boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO) and the cortico-steroid triamcinolone are not anabolic steroids and can still be legally imported by athletes in the UK.
If we put the ambiguity of UKAD’s statement on the illegality of steroid importation aside, UK bodybuilders should still be greatly alarmed by UKAD’s latest statement. UKAD will testify that the possession of anabolic steroid, even when intended solely for personal use, should be criminalized. Steroid possession has been perfectly legal in the UK up until now. Hopefully, it will remain so.