Fast facts about steroids

In January 2020, we released a report on Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs. Here's some of the key points:

  • IPEDs, in the context of sport, are substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as per the Prohibited List.
  • Anabolic steroids are the most common type of IPED.
  • According to the 2017 IPED Survey, the most common demographic for the onset of IPED use was 20-24 year-old males. 
  • A study carried out by UKAD for Clean Sport Week 2019 found 34% of the gym-goers surveyed are aware of IPED use in their gym or club, demonstrating that IPED use is moving beyond the sporting environment.
  • IPED use is more commonly associated with some sports than others. Of UKAD’s current Anti-Doping Rule Violations (October 2019), 37% involve rugby union players, and 18% involve rugby league players – although of these rugby violations, four (12%) were non-analytical and five (15%) were for recreational drugs, including cocaine and MDMA.
  • A survey published following the 2011 World Athletics Championships reported that more than 30% of the athletes surveyed admitted to using banned substances at some point in their career. 
  • Social media, exposure to ‘body image influencers’, popularity of the ‘Love Island look’, and a normalisation of injecting practices are current societal trends which have been cited as reasons behind IPED use.
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Purchase and supply of IPEDs brings users into contact with criminal activity
  • Steroids are a Class C Controlled Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Production and supply are an offence for which a maximum sentence of 14 years can be given along with an unlimited fine. Simple possession however is not an offence. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has established a working group to examine IPEDs, however at the time of writing this, the group haven’t issued any report or recommendations.
  • Evidence from Border Force indicates the majority of IPEDs arriving into the UK originate in China, eastern Europe and areas of Asia, such as India. Singapore is also emerging as a major source country due to products from India being moved there for distribution.
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A lack of long-term research is creating a public health ‘time bomb’
  • People who use IPEDs put themselves at risk of substantial harm to their health.
  • Regularly taking anabolic steroids can lead to physical and psychological changes, as well as potentially dangerous medical conditions.
  • According to the 2016 National IPED Survey, 18% of participants who had injected reported that they had reused their own injecting equipment, and 15% reported that they had shared a multi-dose drug vial.
  • It is important to consider IPED use as both a consequence of mental health pressure, and as a possible contributor to exacerbating symptoms.
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