by Christian Duque
For some this article might just be about a short video, but to others it may be about something bigger to come. It’s not every day that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) releases a video about research chemicals in bodybuilding and it’s certainly even more rare that they direct it at social media influencers. The video is intended to educate the public about selective androgen receptor modulators (SARM’s) and the many dangers they pose should they fall into the wrong hands.
The SARMs Control Act of 2019 makes selling these substances as dietary supplements 100% illegal. That being said, the government has not enforced this law with very much effort due to the fact that it was sidelined by the pandemic and due to the fact that when the legislation was signed into law many of the biggest companies closed shop.
However, in recent months, we have seen a resurhence of companies selling these chemicals as dietary supplements and worst yet, advertising all over popular social media platforms. This brazen disregard for the law has surely not gone unnoticed. Could this video be the beginning of widespread enforcement of this law? What will that mean for the companies that are currently violating the law and advertising as much throughout the Internet? What will it mean for those who are ordering these chemicals in the mail?
In years past we have seen research chemicals sold in a variety of different ways in order to fly under the radar. Initially they were sold in vials and test tubes. Then they moved to powders. Now they have powders and pills, sponsored athletes photographed with them, and even recommended dosages for men and women, those competing and those not. They have become so popular that many of these companies no longer use catchphrases like “not for human consumption” or “for research purposes only.” And even though these catchphrases never provided any immunity from prosecution, it was at least part of them trying to fly under the radar. Now it’s as if they believe the law will never be enforced, and it is a license to profit on all levels at all times.
What many of us in the fitness industry probably fail to realize, whether because we don’t want to or because we simply don’t know, is that the FDA is probably receiving complaints from folks who have used these substances. Whether it’s their parents, significant others, or those that took them themselves. Many of these research chemicals are made in laboratories that have not been sterilized, with raw materials of unknown origins, and produced into concoctions that may, in fact, have harmed individuals who took them. Again the government does not do things out of sheer spontaneity. There is always a rationale behind it.
Another factor that cannot be ignored is all the noise of Sabre rattling politicians in Washington DC. For whatever reason, our gray-haired elected officials have never been too fond of bodybuilding and much less bodybuilding supplements. Throughout the 2000’s supplement companies were involved in cat and mouse games with the FDA. The second prohormones came out that worked, they got banned, and the supplement companies were forced back to the drawing board. This was the name of the game for the better part of the last 20 years. It amounted to FDA warning letters, raids, and full-blown indictments and prosecutions that sent countless individuals to federal prison. Many of the companies that have been openly trafficking in these chemicals – especially on social media – are likely to be prosecuted at some point in time. The government does not write legislation and then enact it into law without the intention of enforcing it. Thinking otherwise is not only out of touch but it’s incredibly stupid.
The recklessness that has become the calling card of so many companies selling these illicit chemicals has more than likely been the catalyst for the government to finally start building cases and prosecuting individuals and companies. What a lot of people may not realize is that the consumers in this scenario may just as likely be held accountable for violating the law as the manufactures of these chemicals. It would be no different than ordering anabolic steroids to your postal box, as it would be to order research chemicals being sold as dietary supplements to your home.
So again, maybe this is just a harmless video intended to educate and with hopes of reaching social media influencers. And maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s just the beginning of full scale indictments and prosecutions to come. Maybe this is a way to sound the alarm, to get influencers on the right page. Who knows?
Maybe the government is hoping that influencers will do right by their audiences. Then again, if that really is the motivation for this video, I think they will be shocked to find out that influencers don’t owe any loyalty to their audience. Influencers are all about money and accumulating as much of it as possible. Would influencers knowingly, send their audiences to take supplements or chemicals that could harm them, if it meant enriching themselves in the process? I will let you be the one to decide that. I think you guys know where I stand.
With regards to the video, I think it’s short and sweet and to the point. I think it’s going to get a lot of engagement and I also think it’s going to keep a lot of people enriching themselves by selling these chemicals to think twice about what’s to come. To them this isn’t just some cute little video the FDA decided to release. To them it’s probably a lot of red flags springing up left, right, and center.
The problem for the biggest fish in this illicit industry, however, is that it may be too late for them. And what’s ironic is that the very ads that have made them so much money up until now, may very well be the evidence that puts them away for the next 10 or 20 years.