United Kingdom Expands Anabolic Steroid Laws for 2012 London Olympics
by Millard Baker
The United Kingdom intends to expand its anabolic steroid laws in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics in response to pressure from the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The steroid law revision is largely a symbolic move by the United Kingdom. It is an attempt to appease WADA by showing their commitment anti-doping in sports; however, the personal use of anabolic steroids and the importation of anabolic steroids for personal use will continue to be permitted under UK steroid law. The proposed legislation is unlikely to have any effect on steroid use in the United Kingdom.
The new proposal seeks to make British steroid law consistent with the WADA prohibited substance list. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended adding an additional 24 anabolic steroids (mostly marginally effective prohormones) and 2 non-steroidal agents to the existing list of 54 anabolic steroid and 5 growth hormones currently classified as Schedule 4 (IV) controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Suggestions by the media that the proposed changes to UK steroid law are intended to protect the children are disingenuous. The driving forces behind the new steroid laws are IOC/WADA and the 2012 London Olympics (”Proposed control of 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) and a group of substituted piperazines, as well as an additional 24 anabolic steroids and 2 non-steroidal agents,” May 21).
The original group of steroids were identified by reference to the International Olympic Commission Prohibited List. It is therefore appropriate for us to update our controls by reference to its successor, the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. It will provide consistency in our approach and is fully in line with the Government’s commitment to prevent the misuse of these substances both by the general public but also by elite athletes, particularly in the lead up to the London Olympics in 2012. […]
The measure to control 24 additional anabolic steroid substances and 2 non-steroidal products under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 will support the Government’s commitment to strengthening the mechanisms to tackle doping in sport, targeting those facilitating doping and tackle trafficking, supply and manufacture of doping substances and those involved in such activities.
The IOC has long pressured the United Kingdom to criminalize personal use of steroids. Without changes to steroid possession laws, the IOC and WADA are unlikely to be satisfied by the Home Office’s latest recommendations. The United Kingdom’s permissive steroid possession laws will likely become increasingly problematic as the 2012 London Olympics approach. We expect the IOC to continue to lobby the U.K. government to adopt legislation that criminalizes mere use and possession of anabolic steroids.
The personal use of anabolic steroids and the importation of anabolic steroids for personal use remains explicitly permitted in the United Kingdom when in the form of a medicinal product under the new proposals. Only illicit steroid dealers, suppliers, and traffickers who profit from selling steroids are subject to criminal prosecution. Harsh penalties are reserved for those who “produce, supply or possess/import/export with intent to supply without a licence”.
When controls were first introduced for steroids in 1996, the Government accepted the ACMD’s advice that there should not be a possession offence when the steroids are in the form of a medicinal product and for personal use. Controls on anabolic steroids continue to be targeted at those illicit suppliers and traffickers who profit from selling these substances. As Class C drugs the maximum sentence for supply, trafficking and production is 14 years. […]
It was not recommended that an offence of simple possession be introduced as that would unnecessarily criminalise a group of people. It is therefore not an offence to simply possess anabolic steroids when in the form of a medicinal product for personal use. In the absence of a simple possession offence, it was considered anomalous and contrary to EU restrictions to make the importation or exportation of the substances for personal use an offence i.e. to have a stricter regime of controls at ports. Permitting importation for personal use was consistent with permitting simple possession inland. However, in all other circumstances importation and exportation would require a Home Office licence; such activity without a licence is an offence. The Government accepted this advice and anabolic steroids were brought under the legislative framework.
In 1995, the ACMD gave further consideration to the drugs that should be included in the legislative measure. As well as anabolic steroids, beta-2-agonists and growth hormones were considered for control. The ACMD acknowledged that people involved in sporting activities took a wide range of substances; the most common reasons cited included legitimate therapeutic purposes, performance continuation, performance enhancement and recreational use. The ACMD also took into account at this time the anabolic substances and androgenic (or masculinising) substances which are banned in sports and on the International Olympic Commission (IOC) list- (now known as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list).
Currently 54 anabolic steroid substances, as well as 5 growth hormones, are controlled as Class C drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by a generic definition. They were made subject to Schedule 4 Part 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 with additional import/ export restrictions. It is an offence under the Act to produce, supply or possess/import/export with intent to supply without a licence. The current regulations for Schedule 4 Part 2 require a Home Office licence to be issued for those importing/ exporting anabolic steroids unless the substance is in the form of medicinal product being imported for personal use only.
The government admits that “there is little evidence of misuse by the general public of these specific additional substances”. Remarkably, the legislation is not based on “evidence of misuse” but primarily on allegedly well-established “principle of controlling anabolic steroids as Class C drugs”.
It is noteworthy to compare and contrast United Kingdom steroid law with United States steroid law.
Personal use of anabolic steroids and importation of anabolic steroids for personal use is explicitly permitted in the United Kingdom.
Non-medical use of anabolic steroids and importation of anabolic steroids for personal use is criminalized in the United States.
Steroid laws in the United Kingdom based on “demand reduction, harm minimisation and reduction of supply”.
Steroid laws in the United States based on prosecuting steroid users and steroid distributors.
Physicians can prescribe ANY anabolic steroid on the controlled substance list for medicinal purposes in the United Kingdom even though testosterone and nandrolone decanoate are the only androgens and anabolic steroids licensed for use in the U.K.
Physicians risk criminal prosecution in the United States if they prescribe any controlled anabolic steroids lacking FDA approval for human use and possibly for prescribing anabolic steroids for off-label purposes especially for performance-enhancing purposes.
* ACMD recommendation that an additional 24 Anabolic Steroids and 2 non-steroidal agents (growth promoters) are brought under the control of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act as Class C drugs and placed in Part 2 of Schedule 4 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 so as not to preclude legitimate use on prescription. All 26 substances are not subsumed by the MDA 1996 generic definition; neither are they listed explicitly by SI 1243:2003 or SI 1300:1996. Zeranol & Zilpaterol are not steroids but the WADA sub-category includes Clenbuterol, which is MDA controlled.
These are as follows: