With so much attention in the media given to steroid use among US athletes like Lance Armstrong and A-Rod, it is easy to forget that steroids are used everywhere. And nowhere is that becoming more apparent than down under in Australia.
Last year, Australia saw some of the most public steroids in sport scandals it had ever witnessed. Revelations of doping among athletes in club soccer, Aussie Rules Football and even in horse racing dominated headlines in the country’s papers’ sports sections. One particular Aussie Rules Football scandal involving the Essendon Bombers revealed the players were injecting TB-500 at the behest of the club and when some players wanted to stop taking the supplements, the owners wouldn’t let them.
But it isn’t just athletes that are causing the boom in steroid use in Australia. According to a report by the University of New South Wales, steroids are becoming the drug of choice for first time users of illicit drugs.
“Steroid use is creeping more and more into younger people,” said the president of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton. “It comes with this wish to win at all costs and to attain the perfect body immediately. We worry about our girls with body image but it is just as much young men we need to worry about now.”
The study looked at users who obtained syringes through the Australia’s needle exchange program. Nearly three quarters of first-time drug users at the exchanges were there to inject performance-enhancing drugs, however the report does say that steroid users tend to be more educated than heroin or meth users so that might factor in to why more users would be sure to obtain clean syringes.
Another sign that Australia is in the midst of a steroid boom is a report issued by the country’s customs agency. According to the agency, more people are smuggling in steroids than narcotics. Last year, Australian Customs agents seized six times the amount of steroids at the Brisbane Airport than narcotics. The agency reported nearly 60 commercial quantities of steroids last year of various sizes. Most of Australia’s steroids are coming from Asia, mostly China and Thailand.
“It would generally vary between say 500 tablets or half-a-dozen vials, up to several thousand tablets and hundreds of vials, depending on how frequent they want to use and how much money they have I suppose,” said Customs agency spokesman Kevin Gray.
With all these reports coming out about the rise of steroid use, Australia is surely going to up their enforcement. We are sure to expect stricter testing of professional athletes and likely harsher punishments for possession and distribution of steroids. The media is already having a field day over a recent story involving a young man who brutally attacked another and who was later found to be in possession of several vials of steroids, triggering a public panic about “roid rage.”
Although it is not good news that men as young as 15 bare shooting up steroids in Australia, the fact that they are choosing steroids over meth or heroin is somehow promising. Being concerned about your body image can lead some people down some dark corridors of self-doubt which leads to drug abuse and addiction. Steroids are no different, but escaping through meth and heroin destroys the body and mind. Hopefully, the young men in Australia will learn that they shouldn’t use steroids while still in puberty and learn to keep in shape naturally until they are old enough to make more educated decisions about using performance-enhancing substances.