[Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only.]
Steroids have been a part of bodybuilding since its inception because they have a direct and highly positive effect on the main objective of the sport/activity/beauty contest – stimulation of muscular growth beyond the conceivable.
Every advancement made by the steroid chemistry has triggered a parallel elevation of the bodybuilding standards. Even if a man wanted to compete as an ultra-pristine natural brah, he would never reach the professional podium without injecting because PEDs created monumental discrepancies between natural and enhanced lifters. Muscle samurai are practically obligated to inject if they want to compete for a pro card.
This chemical dependence creates a strong demand for drugs which leads us to an interesting inquiry – how and from where do professional bodybuilders buy anabolic steroids?
Short answer: Bodybuilders who have the funds to afford the best product on the market rely on a connected supplier (middle-man) who has access to anabolic steroids produced by highly reputable pharmaceutical companies. Since this lifestyle is reserved only for the bodybuilding bourgeoisie, many contestants, including individuals who compete on a fairly high-level, resort to less optimal channels such as online vendors and underground labs.
Where do steroids come from in the first place?
Legal Pharmaceutical Companies
Synthetic anabolic substances are complex pharmacological products. Therefore, only resourceful companies with access to high-end specialized laboratories have the equipment, the manpower and the expertise required to produce pure and potent gear.
Clandestine Drug labs
You’ve probably heard of illegal meth laboratories. They appear in almost every police TV series. Well, there are similar underground facilities dedicated to the production of anabolic steroids as the demand for androgenic drugs is exceptionally high.
To increase their margins, the desperado chemists buy the cheapest raw materials that they could get from China and mix their drugs in non-professional, insanitary conditions. Very often the product of those covert centers is lacking in quality and contains pollutants (e.g., heavy metals) that put the health of the user at risk.
On many occasions, the labels and the content don’t coincide. It’s not uncommon to buy one steroid (e.g., Anavar) only to receive a totally different compound (e.g., Dianabol).
Some muscle lovers who have the knowledge and the right equipment make their own anabolic cocktails. Their labs are similar to the underground ones, but since the “chiefs” are cooking drugs for personal use or and/or distribution among highly valued clients and friends, extra precaution is invested into the process.
What would you choose?
If you had all the money in the world, and you badly wanted steroids, which source would you select?
Unless you have a strong desire to deal with thugs or play chemist, pharma grade production is your best bet as it provides the ultimate anabolic experience.
Wealthy bodybuilders agree and do their best to secure a dealer attached to a high-end product line.
The Pre-digital Era
The bodybuilders who competed prior to the digital revolution had no choice but to count on offline networking to find a supplier. At the time, there were no social media, websites and obscure forums to hide behind. The only option was “analog” communication.
Very often a single very connected person was supplying one or multiple local gyms with anabolic magic. Of course, that’s happening today too, although the digital forces have definitely shrunk the “analog” business.
The Internet and the devices allowing constant connectivity have influenced every segment of human life from dating to the purchasing of PEDs. A quick search for anabolic steroids generates 12,500,000 results.
Nonetheless, high availability does not guarantee good quality. Many “muscle apprentices” have been scammed online. I’ve even heard of people paying for anabolic steroids and getting nothing.
This strategy is known as the “disappearing website” and was common in the past – a customer would purchase anabolic steroids in the hope to get “swol”, but nothing would come in the mail. After a while, the website disappears into the nothingness and the criminals behind it start a new one and deploy the same tactic.
In spite of the high scam rate, online steroid dealing is still going strong. However, the “enlightened” users communicate through obscure forums some of which require an invite or through personal messages on more popular websites.
When I was training in an underground powerlifting gym where I would routinely see needles in the locker room, I had a chance to witness the upper layers of steroid dealing from the first row. A local bodybuilder with access to “juice” was communicating with his customers digitally through e-mails and anonymous texting apps.
The Dark Web
The dark web offers another opportunity to purchase steroids online. Some prefer this method as the level of anonymity is very high.
Possible Source Dealers
Medical professionals can write prescriptions for anabolic steroids. Many average gym rats and shadow pinners count on “progressive” doctors to get their TRT doses. But the pros cannot replicate that method since their needs go far beyond a basic dose of testosterone propionate. The top competitors take a multitude of steroids and growth hormone. Some of the drugs are not even available in regular pharmacies as they are intended for animal use. (e.g., trenbolone).
Many years ago, I witnessed an interesting exchange in a drug store while waiting in line to buy fish oil. A dude that I’ve seen in a gym before went to a pharmacist and handed her a list with drugs that an alleged company was willing to buy.
The woman looked at the piece of paper and refused to comply. The guy was very pushy and told her to keep it “just in case”. She showed the list to her colleague and said: “They probably want to resell them.” This is when everything clicked – the man was a proactive steroid “distributor”.
Even though this upfront transaction was denied, you can be certain that other “stealthier” offers are accepted consistently by some drug stores. At the end of the day, money always opens doors.
Many anabolic steroids are synthesized with livestock in mind. Trenbolone, an anabolic drug five times more androgenic than testosterone, is one example.
Owners of livestock inject their animals with anabolic steroids and growth hormone to speed up the growing process, maximize lean meat production and stimulate more efficient absorption of macronutrients. Consequently, veterinarians, farmers and other individuals involved in the process of raising domesticated animals can get their hands on anabolic steroids which can later be sold to people.
Some “training” and “nutrition” experts are actually drug dealers or people who can connect their “clients” to a legit source. The thousands of dollars allegedly paid by muscle constructors for meal plans are often payments for anabolic supplies and professionally designed drug cycles.
You’ve probably heard of the term sex tourism which describes travel to exotic destinations with a single goal in mind – to indulge in sexual experiences. Well, steroids tourism is a thing too.
In some countries, it is legal to purchase anabolic steroids directly or at the very least the regulatory bodies are more likely to look the other way. Mexico, Columbia, Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Moldova, Pakistan, Thailand, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Ukraine and other states carry almost non-existent anabolic steroid laws. Other countries like the UK allow individuals to possess anabolic drugs for personal use but prohibit distribution.
As a result, some bodybuilders and dealers travel across the border to purchase PEDs and then smuggle them.
A Consistent Source Is Crucial
Without drugs, there’s no bodybuilding. For that reason, it is of utmost importance for a bodybuilder to secure a steady supplier. This fact of life proves once again that bodybuilding is closer to chemical warfare than a healthy activity.
The Chart Below Illustrates the Distribution Process