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STEROID SURGE More Irish people using illegal steroids despite Covid-19 lockdown

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Man lifting weights

Man lifting weights

PA

Man lifting weights

The State agency targeting the illegal supply of medicines in Ireland has said more and more people are using steroids despite the Covid lockdown.

In recent years the number of anabolic steroid units seized has increased, with more than 120,000 recovered last year compared to just under 100,000 the previous year.

The Health Protection Regulation Agency (HPRA), tasked with overseeing the use of medicines, has said there has been a sustained growth in the steroid market.

The agency has also said that trends for 2020 indicate that use of the drugs has continued despite travel restrictions during the pandemic.

Over the past three years the HPRA, which works with gardaí and Revenue, has brought16 prosecutions in relation to steroids. This includes a Dublin bodybuilder who was last weeks pared a jail sentence and a criminal conviction after he admitted to supplying illegal steroids along with other medication.

Peter Gibson (51) admitted to unlawfully supplying or placing on the market steroids, slimming products and erectile dysfunction medicine.

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Peter Gibson

Peter Gibson

CollinsPhotoAgency

Peter Gibson

He also pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation.

He was prosecuted following a surveillance operation by the HPRA, which resulted in his home being searched.

HPRA enforcement officer Alan Smullen had told the court that 2,487 tablets, 250 vials, 467 capsules and 28 sachets were recovered at Gibson’s rented apartment on October 25, 2018.The value of the products seized was estimated to be€7,300, he said.

The steroids seized in his apartment were among the 98,565 units recovered in 2018,with close to 450,000 being recovered in 2017. This included 330,000 tablets in a single operation in Donegal. Last year the HPRA seized a total of 121,581 dosage units of anabolic steroids and agents

.A spokesman for the agency said: “Trends currently apparent for 2020 indicate that the demand or consumer behaviour in respect of anabolic steroids has not been impacted by the pandemic and supply appears to have continued via both online and person to person sales.”

They added that intelligence and other indicators, including needle exchange figures, “point to a sustained growth in use without medical supervision in Ireland in recent years.

“Evidence suggests that people, particularly young men, are sourcing these products for purposes of performance enhancement and body enhancement. Most detentions in Ireland can be identified as having both online supply and person to person aspects in their illicit supply chain.

"Many of the smaller quantities are solely online transactions. Many sales are arranged through text or social media messages and then often delivered in person or by post.

“In some cases, a physical importation of a larger quantity is broken down into smaller physical deliveries and again sold using text and online sales.

“The online supply of anabolic steroids to individuals purchasing for own consumption tends to be in smaller quantities.

“These online supplies are from websites almost exclusively based outside of Ireland."

Due to the growing steroid use the HPRA has also run a campaign highlighting the risks associated with use.

The ‘Zero Gains’ campaign aims to raise awareness o fthe potentially serious sideeffects and health risks of using anabolic steroids.

Launched in 2018, it found that three in four people feel social media, TV and other media pressure young adults to look a certain way.

Herald