The Steroids Black Market in the United Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Steroids are synthetic derivatives mimicking natural hormones that regulate and control how the body develops and maintains itself. Functioning in a similar way to the male hormone testosterone, they can improve endurance and athletic performance, reduce body fat and stimulate muscle growth. Currently, steroids are prescription-only drugs under the UK Medicines Act and they can only be sold by a pharmacist on the presentation of a doctor’s prescription. Without a prescription, steroids are classed as Class C drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is legal to possess or import steroids as long as they are for personal use and as long as the importation is carried out in person. Importation or exportation of steroids for personal use using postal, courier or freight services is illegal. Possessing or importing with intent to supply is illegal and could lead to up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the main aim of this piece is to provide a summarised account of the social organisation of the steroid black market in the UK (a more detailed account can be found in Antonopoulos and Hall, 2016). The research is based on a variety of online and offline sources including a virtual ethnography, a traditional (offline) ethnography conducted in a locale in the Northeast of England with one of the highest rates of steroid use in the UK, data from law enforcement and regulatory agencies - the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) and Interpol - and a number of published media sources.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationCIROC Newsletter
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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