July 10, 2010
WATERLOO REGION - Forget locker-room deals, stuffed gym bags and whispered words from a muscle bound man.
There's a much simpler way to buy the kind of performance enhancing drugs that brought down the University of Waterloo's football team - with a credit card and access to the internet.
Ordering steroids and human growth hormone through websites has become the single biggest way that those drugs are bought and sold, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
It's a multimillion-dollar shadow industry that is highly illegal, and very hard to police. And it's shipping its dangerous products to a mailbox near you.
Last year alone, agents with the Canadian Border Services Agency seized tens of thousands of dollars worth of steroids and growth hormone en route to mailing addresses in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge. Records of those seizures, obtained through federal Access to Information legislation, show that the postal service has become the new pipeline for dealers trying get their products past authorities to demanding customers.
Some of the seized local shipments were as small as two glass vials of testosterone and boldenone, a type of steroid typically used for horses - worth about $100. Others packages that caught the eye of X-ray scanners at the border agency's mail processing facility in Toronto included 950 pills of methandienone, an anabolic steroid used to aid muscle growth.
A typical order to a Kitchener address was 500 yellow, diamond-shaped pills of Stanozolol - the steroid linked to sports doping scandals from Ben Johnson to Barry Bonds. Another seizure was of 500 Methanoplex tablets, a potent steroid that can cause estrogen-like effects in men.
The seizures - which experts say are just a drop in the bucket in the river flowing into Canada - show just how common ordering from steroid websites has become. With names like steroid.com, buysteroids.com and roidstore.com, they operate out in the open like any other online retailer. Except, of course, they're illegal.
"This is a lot bigger than most people realize. It's dirt cheap and it just comes in the mail," said Dusty Payne, a Washington, DC-based expert on steroids with the U.S. drug enforcement agency. "The biggest way people are selling steroids now is through these websites."
In Canada and the U.S., buying steroids without a prescription is against the law. But that hasn't stopped hundreds of websites from popping up, offering huge inventories of the drugs at rock-bottom prices, no questions asked. The operators of these websites are constantly on the move, trying to avoid authorities. Some maintain dozens of domain names as a virtual front for their basement and garage laboratories, making them hard to trace.
Many websites buy their product in raw form from China, repackage it and ship it off to addresses across North America. If your order is stopped by customs officers, don't sweat it, they say. They'll simply send out another one.To read the rest of the article: Â http://news.therecord.com/article/743204