Federal prosecutors are pushing for a Winnipeg "exercise nut" to serve three years in prison for running an illegal steroid smuggling and trafficking operation for nearly a decade.
Pavel Louda, 38, pleaded guilty to a smuggling charge under Canada's Customs Act. He was previously convicted of a similar offence.
In 2002 he spent 24 days in jail after being caught smuggling $12,000 worth of anabolic steroids while returning from a trip to the Czech Republic.
Between September 2001 up until his July 2009 arrest, Louda used Winnipeg post office boxes registered under fake names to have unregulated 'roids sent to him from European nations, according to the Crown.
Between 2004 and 2009, Canada Border Services Agency officers made 198 seizures of steroid packages linked to Louda's activities, court heard.
"That's what we caught," prosecutor Raegan Rankin said.
CBSA investigators also found Louda had made nearly $189,000 in wire transfers to the Czech Republic and other European locations over that same timeframe, said Rankin.
The CBSA embarked on an undercover probe in 2007 after making a considerable number of steroid seizures from smaller-sized mail packages in Montreal and Winnipeg.
They began watching a post office box at a Shoppers Drug Mart on McPhillips Street where Louda was seen picking up and dropping off packages at a steady clip.
They also covertly watched him meet with people in cars at parking lots while carrying packages with him, court heard.
A subsequent raid by CBSA agents of Louda's home in July 2009 netted them evidence of Louda's mail-order steroid racket, including "tally sheets" indicating who some of the drugs were going to and who owed him what.
"He's not just trafficking," Rankin said. "He orders, he pays, he has (the steroids) delivered to him and then he disburses to other people. He is the whole show," Rankin told Judge Careena Roller.
At least a few injectable vials seized were filled with alcohol or vegetable oil, court heard. They presented potential major health risks, said the Crown.
"This is what he's giving people. He's going to have people inject Crisco, essentially, into their bodies. Did he know that's what they were? No. But did he care? Clearly not," said Rankin.
Defence lawyer Iain MacNair described Louda as an "exercise nut" who is "deeply ashamed" of his actions. He only sold to a small group of people he knew personally through bodybuilding circles, MacNair said.
The not-typically addictive drugs don't present the same "social impact" that cocaine or heroin do, said MacNair. Those who bought them were aware of the health risks, he added.
MacNair asked the court to impose a conditional sentence in the range of nine to 15 months, along with a cash fine.
Roller said she was concerned at Louda's "audacity" at applying for a pardon on his 2002 conviction in 2009 while still engaged in his smuggling operation.
"I have huge concerns about reoffending," she said.
Roller reserved her decision.
Health Canada lists anabolic steroids as controlled substances, and only licensed companies are allowed to carry and/or distribute the drugs.
The RCMP says black-market steroid smuggling in Canada has been "a problem for decades" - one driven by demand from the sport and fitness community.
Smuggling via post is the most-employed method of getting them into the country.
What are they?
Anabolic steroids are chemically manufactured testosterone, the male sex hormone.
Why take them?
Some athletes and bodybuilders take anabolic steroids to get bigger and stronger. The drug also keeps their energy high so they can train longer and harder without getting tired and sore.
How are they taken?
Steroids are taken orally or by injection, usually in a four to 18 week cycle.
The cycle includes starting with low doses of more than one steroid, then gradually increasing the dose, then stopping use entirely.
What are the long-term effects?
Some side effects of long-term use can include: Less flexible muscles and ruptured tendons, incurable liver damage, feelings of paranoia, risk of stroke and heart attack and violent tendencies. As well, people who use steroids can become psychologically and physically dependent on them.