Horse steroids for your kids

2013-03-10 10:01

City Press was able to buy illegal horse steroids marketed to local teenagers on the internet via sites like Facebook – even though they can kill humans and are not legal even for animal use in South Africa.

The transactions formed part of a six-week investigation into how the anabolic steroid trade has exploded in South Africa and how young South Africans are being targeted as a lucrative market in an international criminal trade.

Just this week, Zane Botha (24), who is the captain of the Tuks rugby team and was previously contracted to the Blue Bulls, admitted to having used anabolic steroids and to being bust in a drug test in January.

Making contact with dealers using Facebook as a marketing platform – on which scores of teenage South Africans actively sought anabolic steroids – we were able to buy a variety of illegal substances.

Some were highly regulated human anabolic steroids which are supposed to be supplied only with a doctor’s prescription.

But most alarming was the ease with which we were able to access the supply of two varieties of horse steroids – neither of which is legal for use on animals.

City Press was able to buy a 10ml bottle of the injectable horse steroid trenbolone for R500.

Its extremely high testosterone content means trenbolone is extremely dangerous for humans.

Both a veterinarian and a sports physician told City Press the drug can dramatically increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

It also causes a user’s testicles to shrink, lowers sperm production and causes breast growth in men.

But trenbolone and another horse steroid, equipoise (also illegal for veterinary use in South Africa), regularly top the price lists of online steroid merchants doing business in South Africa.

Professor Vinny Naidoo, the director of the University of Pretoria Veterinary Science faculty’s Biomedical Research Centre, says equipoise, or boldenone undecylenate, is probably even more dangerous than trenbolone.

It can cause fractures because of weakened bones and an abnormally high red blood cell count.

City Press bought the trenbolone from a website called Evolve Anabolics.

The site appears to have been taken down during the course of our investigation and the domain is registered through a specialist company in the US designed to protect the identity of the site owner.

Through the site, we made contact with the company’s representative, calling himself Rob, on Facebook. He then emailed us a price list of illegal sub-stances.

We also bought a bottle of fifty 10mg Dianabol tablets for R190.

Dianabol, a human anabolic steroid, is popular with schoolboys because it doesn’t remain in the system for long.

Within a week of making the deposit, plus R70 for postage, and sending proof of payment to “Rob”, our parcel was shipped from Gordon’s Bay in the Western Cape to Cape Town.

We also bought a 10ml bottle of injectable Dianabol from another trader, Leviathan Gear Factory (LGF) for R400.

This person advertises himself as an “online fitness instructor and anbolic coach” on Facebook.

LGF initially got cold feet – coinciding with the arrest of an alleged international steroid kingpin, Brian Wainstein, in Cape Town in January – but about two weeks later told us that the parcel was on its way.

The payment for what was described as injectable Dianabol – which arrived with no labelling on the bottle – had to be deposited into an Absa bank account held by a “Mrs A Fourie”.

Neither Evolve nor Leviathon Gear Factory asked whether the buyers or users were 18 years or older, or whether users had a prescription.

Attempts to trace the identities of those behind the bank accounts were fruitless.

A senior Hawks investigator said it was believed many supplement stores were fronts for illegal steroid sales and that several were under investigation.

He said: “We are also looking at several websites that sell steroids locally. We know of at least 10.”

The CEO of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, Khalid Galant, said the World Anti-Doping Agency’s new code would see agencies cooperating to crack down on international syndicates.

How steroids reach you

The shoolboy

» A 17-year-old provincial rugby player described turning to the horse steroid trenbolone, among others, when he wanted to build muscle last year.

The player, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, has twice represented his province at prominent youth tournaments and said steroid use at this level was fairly common.

“At last year’s Craven Week there were five other players in my team who were definitely using steroids,” he said.

He was also aware of other players in other teams who were also using steroids.

As an under-16 participant in the Grant Khomo rugby tournament there had been three players in his team who had used steroids.

“I got the steroids through friends at my school,” he recalled.

“I paid R1000 for my first cycle of 200 Dianabol tablets and R900 for 10ml injectable Sustanin. Later that year I paid R2400 for 20ml trenbolone and 20ml equipoise. It’s an expensive business.”

He claimed to no longer use steroids and that he planned to focus on his rugby career without them.

He also claimed he had not experienced side effects.

“To be honest, the stuff put me in a good mood, because you know you can train harder in the gym.

“It definitely had a noticeable effect. I got much bigger and got big muscles. But I don’t think it necessarily made me a better rugby player.”

The father

» The father of a Craven Week rugby player who was bust for steroid use claimed his son was told by his coach that steroid use was less dangerous than coffee and cigarettes.

The father, who asked not to be named, said his son, who represented Limpopo during Craven Week from a top rugby school, tested positive for the steroid Dianabol and was suspended from the game for two years.

Dianabol, the father said, was popular among school-going rugby players because signs of its use remained in the system for about six weeks.

It enabled them to build muscle outside season and stop in time not to test positive in season.

“One of the teachers at his school showed them a video that apparently said steroids are less dangerous than coffee and cigarettes,” he said.

The father said at the same Craven Week tournament he overheard other schoolboy players talking about Dianabol.

His own son had told him that Dianabol and other banned substances were distributed in his hostel and that the dealers themselves were still at school.

Another father said his 15-year-old son had turned to steroids to put on weight to become more competitive in rugby.

His son had obtained steroids, which he injected, on school grounds.

But the injection wound turned septic and wouldn’t heal.

“The medical treatment cost more than R30 000,” he said, adding his son no longer used steroids.

Effects on your body

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