Bahrain is suffering an ‘epidemic’ of young people using illegal performance enhancing drugs, according to fitness experts.
Health officials have confiscated hundreds of shipments of steroids, body enhancing substances and unidentified food supplements in the last year, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
They are calling on legislators to enforce stricter legislation and raise awareness of potential life-threatening risks.
They also fear the problem, made popular by professional athletes, has affected young Bahrainis as more teenagers inject themselves with drugs.
Bahrain Anti-Doping Committee chairman Dr Hussain Al Haddad – a branch of the Bahrain Olympic Committee – said it was a challenge to tackle the increasing numbers of young people using these substances in local gyms across the country.
“Officially speaking it is a global problem and not just for Bahrain to address,” he told the GDN.
“But in the last two years or so, since 2010, we have seen national players, particularly bodybuilders, using steroids in local and national events.
“It is not just steroids we are dealing with as there are many kinds of non-specific drugs that can be used to enhance a competitor’s performance and increase the mass of muscles in a short amount of time.
“It’s a huge challenge to tackle this in the professional sporting environment but now we are seeing increasing numbers of young people using these substances in local gyms so it has become more of a public problem.
“These drugs can have a very negative impact on the individual and it is a worrying trend.
“People who take these drugs are endangering their health and if you train in the right way you don’t even need them anyway.
“We need to stop this culture and although we will never completely eradicate the problem, we can teach the younger generations about the dangers, because you do not want to lose your brother or friend because of the side-effects these drugs can have. It can cause so many serious health problems.”
A Bahraini health and fitness expert told the GDN he has seen a huge increase in the use of performance enhancing drugs in the past year.
“It is becoming an epidemic among young people in Bahrain even though there are people who will tell you it isn’t,” he said.
“I work out every day and I have seen 18-year-olds putting injections in their hands in the gym while they are working out.
“When it comes to bodybuilding, especially, you always want to achieve more but there are huge risks involved like kidney failure, liver failure and stomach cancer.
“The government and the private sector need to do more to enforce strict laws and to raise awareness about these kinds of drugs because it is very dangerous.”
National Health Regulatory Authority chief executive Dr Baha Eldin Fateha said they have confiscated hundreds of consignments of body enhancing substances coming into Bahrain in the last year.
“We are suffering because of this issue and we really want to tackle it because these drugs, whether they are steroids or other body enhancing substances, damage kidneys and other parts of the body and we prohibit them completely,” he said.
“These drugs are coming in from other countries with less restrictive laws and it is worrying that this is happening.
“We need to highlight the seriousness of this problem and let people know how dangerous they are.
“Young people are influenced by advertisements which make promises of achieving the perfect body and then they are able to order them online, it is unethical and there is no control.”
However, not everyone paints such a bleak picture and Oxygen gym manager Chris Rawlinson said he thought people in Bahrain were just becoming more health conscious.
“The use of steroids has always been around on a global scale,” he said.
“What you find now is that the likes of Lance Armstrong and other top athletes making the papers for using steroids have given it big exposure.
“Personally I have not seen it becoming a popular trend here, instead what I find is people in Bahrain are becoming more health and fitness conscious and that ranges from children to senior adults.”