AN increasing number of young Australian bodybuilders are travelling to Thailand for so-called’steroid vacations’, where they take advantage of lax drug laws to purchase performance-enhancing steroids and hormones. The trend is fuelling a thriving black market and posing serious health and legal risks for the users.

Jarrad Fisher, 21, from Brisbane, grew from 70 kilograms to a full-fledged bodybuilder by a combination of diet, exercise and natural supplements. But he wanted to push himself even further and decided to buy drugs that were illegal in Australia. He went to Thailand, where he could find all sorts of supplements that were sold for a fraction of their black-market price at home.

A News Corp investigation found that some pharmacies in Pattaya were advertising and selling steroids and related hormones. Some were claiming to offer medical checks for a fee, although that is not a requirement of the law. In some cases the clinics simply write prescriptions for a small fee, much like the 100-baht medical certificates you can get from doctors in Thailand for a driving test.

Steroids are highly toxic and can cause a variety of problems, including liver damage, bone loss, baldness and infertility. The ACC’s latest Illicit Drug Data Report lists anabolic-androgenic steroids as the most common seized drug at ports across the country. The drugs increase muscle mass by boosting levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. They are often combined with dangerous weight-loss medications in a practice known as stacking. Steroids Thailand

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