The global steroids trade is fuelled by a lively black market that is powered by Thailand’s porous borders and bustling trade environment. International criminal networks exploit weak links in the supply chain and use the country as a transit point to ship drugs to other destinations. Despite a regulatory framework that seeks to control illegal manufacturing, illicit laboratories continue to operate in the country, supplying the lucrative world market with a variety of products.

The death of amateur bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian in a Bangkok sauna last year highlighted the rise of so-called “steroid holidays”. Mr Shavershian, 22, from Brisbane weighed 105 kilograms, and while he had bulked up through a strict diet and exercise regime, he wanted to push his physique to the next level. That meant taking supplements that would be illegal in Australia, such as anabolic steroids.

A number of Australians have come forward to say that they regularly travel to Pattaya and other locations in Thailand to take part in “steroid holidays”. They are referred to as this because, unlike the US, where it is illegal to possess steroids without a prescription for their on-label use, steroids can be purchased over the counter in Thailand.

Oral steroids are a synthetic form of the natural male sex hormone testosterone, which helps build muscle mass. A typical steroid cycle involves taking multiple drugs every 48 to 72 hours for two months or so. They are often combined with other powerful drugs, including veterinary medicine and fertility medicines, in a practice known as “stacking”. The drugs can have many side effects, which can be devastating. They include the shrinkage of testes in men and the development of breast tissue in women, as well as a number of health risks such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and liver problems. Steroids Thailand

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