The use of anabolic steroids in competitive sports has been blamed on many things including the win-at-all-costs culture and the increasing commercialization of sports. But Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel thinks he has identified the real culprit responsible for the rampant use of steroids in sports – bodybuilders!
Steel blamed bodybuilders for being bad influences on drug-tested athletes. Recreational and competitive bodybuilders are obsessed with improving their physical appearance with drug-enhanced muscle strength and size. Since they are the biggest consumers of performance- and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDs), they often play an important role in the distribution of steroids.
“The danger for us is that [body-building] brings more steroids into the country, into the market, and athletes are in those same gymnasia and there’s a potential that they may deliberately or not deliberately get involved with that,” Steel said.
The close proximity of steroid-using bodybuilders and drug-tested athletes in commercial gym facilities increases the probability that bodybuilders will sell steroids to professional and amateur athletes according to Steel.
“[Body-builders] are probably the heaviest users and therefore part of the distribution network for those drugs. If they are using, then, as with many other drugs, it may be the next step is them selling in the gym alongside rugby players and athletes and cyclists. There is a potential for that to flow.”
Steel’s perspective is at odds with most anti-doping crusaders who believe that steroid use “trickles down” from professional sports to amateur to recreational and finally to teenage athletes.
Steel suggests that targeting steroid use at commercial gyms may help reduce the overall rate of steroid use in sports. Drug Free Sports has started working with several gyms to address this issue.