Christian Navoy was sentenced to 27 months in prison, 3 years probation and ordered to forfeit assets worth almost $2 million dollars by U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield on March 31, 2009. Navoy operated a research chemical company that sold bodybuilding ancillary products. Navoy pleaded guilty to a single count of “conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, to sell drug paraphernalia [anabolic steroid accessories], and to commit mail fraud”. Navoy’s guilty plea and forfeiture reportedly assured the freedom of wife Jennifer Navoy who had faced similar charges. The government has dropped all charges against Jennifer Navoy; she will walk away with no criminal history after the completion of one year of pre-trial diversion. A review of the case provides insight into how the government is cracking down on steroid and ancillary drug use in bodybuilding community.
Chris Navoy and Jennifer Navoy owned and operated ResearchChemist.com which sold various ancillary drugs and bodybuilding products such as Clomiphene, , , Letrozole, Tamoxifen, and as well steroid conversion kits. Navoy did NOT sell anabolic steroids or controlled substances nor did authorities seize any illegal steroids during the execution of search warrants contrary to news stories, police statements, and government court documents. The case solely involved “research chemicals” and “conversion kits”. Many individuals in the bodybuilding community have closely followed this potentially precedent-setting case for the legality of research chemical sales.
Chris Navoy’s plea agreement kept the case from going to trial and providing definitive rulings on the legality of bodybuilding research chemicals. The judgment in the case of the United States of America vs. Christian J. Navoy does not necessarily make the sale of research chemicals illegal in the United States. What we do know for certain is that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has started investigating research chemicals which are not normally under their jurisdiction.
The FDA expanded its investigative powers into the research chemical domain by asserting that the research chemicals were actually sold as misbranded drugs by Chris Navoy. The federal government had rejected disclaimers and labeling stating the products were for “research purposes only” and “not intended for human consumption.” Furthermore, the FDA asserted that the research chemicals were misbranded drugs since they did not have adequate directions or warnings for safe consumption. Of course, research chemicals not intended for human consumption would not be expected to have such dosage and contraindication information.
, legal expert on performance enhancing drugs and supplements, has previously commented on the significant challenges the federal government faces in the prosecution of a research chemical case:.
“In practice, the research chemical scenario presents a tougher challenge for the FDA than other misbranded drug cases. More typically, a product is sold for human use or administration and the issue is the adequacy of labels and such. But with research chemicals, the government must instead prove the threshold issue that the product is intended for human consumption “ despite express warnings and disclaimers to the contrary.”
Even if Chris Navoy was fully aware that his customers would use research chemicals for bodybuilding purposes as ancillary medications, he would only face a misdemeanor crime punishable by a maximum fine of $1000 in the absence of the intention to defraud, mislead or conviction of similar crime.
“The penalties for misbranded drug violations are found in Section 333(a). Under 333(a)(1), neither knowledge nor intent is required for a misdemeanor violation. To make it a felony under 333(a)(2), the requisite additional element is just the intent to defraud or mislead, or having a previous similar conviction. The felony carries a maximum term of imprisonment of three years,” according to Rick Collins of.
Chris Navoy’s guilty plea to a single conspiracy charge also included drug paraphernalia (anabolic steroid accessories), specifically the Finaplix conversion kit commonly known by steroid users as a “Fina Kit”. “Fina Kits” are used by bodybuilders and athletes to extract and convert the active ingredient trenbolone acetate in Finaplix cattle implants into an injectable anabolic steroid used for bodybuilding purposes.
The felony drug paraphernalia charges facing Navoy involved the sale of some empty vials, needles, syringes, sterile oil and an inert solution packaged as a conversion kit. According to federal law, drug paraphernalia is defined as any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.
Many may recall that Tommy Chong was prosecuted and imprisoned for selling bongs in spite of disclaimers that they were intended only for tobacco and not for marijuana. Similarly, Chris Navoy sold “Fina Kits” with prominent disclaimers stating the conversion kits were intended for research purposes only. In both cases, prosecutors rejected disclaimers as a sham.
A successful drug paraphernalia prosecution requires the involvement of a controlled substance. The legal status of marijuana as a controlled substance is relatively clear. But the fact that Finaplix is readily and LEGALLY available over the counter and via the Internet made the prosecution of Chris Navoy on steroid paraphernalia charges even more disturbing than the prosecution of Tommy Chong on pot paraphernalia charges.
The veterinary product Finaplix is not a controlled substance in and of itself. Trenbolone acetate, the active ingredient in Finaplix, is indeed listed on the controlled substances list. Nonetheless, Finaplix is sold by numerous veterinary supply company in the United States on the internet and via the Google Adwords and Amazon Marketplace. It appears that anyone in the United States can purchase Finaplix from U.S. based vendors without any age verification.
It seems a little unusual that the federal government would send an individual to prison and seize $2 million in assets in large part based on the sale of Fina Kits whle ignoring the widespread and apparently legal sale of Finaplix by online veterinary supply companies via Google.com and Amazon.com advertising and merchant programs.
The United States of America vs. Christian J. Navoy did not provide any clear or definitive rulings on the legality of research chemicals that have the potential to be misused. But it is abundantly clear that the FDA is fully prepared to find ways to attack the legitimacy of research chemical companies.