Jerry Brainum breaks down the straight facts of black market steroids and the odds that the substances will be fake.

In the 1990s, the United States passed the Steroid Control Act – which changed the legal status of steroids and many other PEDs. It became much more strict on how doctors can prescribe steroids. Thus, the athletic use of steroids was altered away from more legitimate sources and turned towards the black market. Much like other illegal designer drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, and heroine – you simply don’t know exactly what you are getting in black market steroid products. In our latest Straight Facts episode, Jerry Brainum explains in detail the reality of black market steroids – and your odds of getting a fake or dangerous product as a result.

The legality of obtaining steroids and other PEDs changed significantly in the 1990s. Due to steroids becoming a fully controlled substance – a black market emerged to fill the gap for athletes and bodybuilders looking to still obtain these drugs. Much has been talked about how the war on drugs simply drives users to turn to shadowy less legitimate sources. For steroids, this is no different. Now many steroid users turn to the dark web or foreign countries to obtain substances.

The problem with this, as Jerry Brainum points out in this episode, is that there are no regulations for black market substances. This means that you never really know what you are purchasing and putting into your body. Drug deals simply want to make a profit – and will do whatever is possible to reduce costs and earn more overhead. That means diluted substances, cheaper packaging, and cheaper methods of creating these substances.

It should come as no surprise this hurts consumers the most – and not just in their wallet. It can have serious health risks caused by bogus substances being put in a person’s body. Or it can have health risks by requiring a user to simply take more and higher doses of the drug due to their lack of optimal effect.

That’s why Jerry Brainum has dedicated this episode to looking at a series of studies that breaks down the reality of what black market steroids and PEDs actually look like – and what the odds are that a user is getting fake substances. Let’s jump into it.

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Nearly 1/3 of black market steroids are fake

Jerry Brainum starts the episode with a few anecdotal stories. While Brainum does not use steroids himself, he is deeply rooted into the bodybuilding industry. He has spoke with many individuals who claim to be using certain steroids – and aren’t getting the kind of results that Brainum knows should be possible from earlier eras of the sport. It’s clear even on an anecdotal level that black market steroids are scamming buyers.

To back this up, Jerry Brianum turns to a recent series of studies that analyzed 5,400 anabolic agents on the black market. Overall, the study showed that cumulatively, 36% of the substances were found to be fake. That’s over 1/3 of all black market steroids.

While this number should be alarming to you – it does alter depending on where you live. For example, the study showed that Brazil was best known for selling fake steroids. Fake or diluted substances were found in 49% of the substances analyzed compared to as low as 15% in other countries.

In addition to this, the type of steroid substance mattered as well. Oil based steroid substances were far more likely to be fake or diluted. With 43-65% of analyzed oil substances being fake vs 29-37% of tablet steroids being found fake.

What does it mean for a steroid substance to be fake? They contain substances other than anabolic materials. For example, Jerry Brainum points out one note from the study that claimed certain so-called steroids contained anti-malarial substances instead.

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Other concerns with black market steroids

Jerry Brainum also discusses other findings made by the studies. Particularly that methods of cutting costs lead to sub-optimal steroid substances on the black market. Business would cut back on packaging, storage conditions, and purposefully dilute the substances in order to make more money out of less substance.

All of these factors can lead to a steroid becoming sub-optimal. Even if the steroid is not fake – it will be less powerful than its dose purports to contain. This has many dangers – one being that an individual may believe they can handle a certain dose of the diluted drug. When they then get hands on perhaps a non-diluted version of the substance – they will unknowingly take more – wreaking havoc on the body and possibly leading to long term serious health risks.

Wrap Up

Jerry Brainum is aware that drug and PED use will not disappear from bodybuilding or any other sport. With the current state of laws in the United States regarding steroids – it’s unavoidable that individuals will turn to the black market. But Brainum hopes that this information can help educate those who are thinking about taking the risk.

If a bodybuilder wants to take that risk – that’s their freedom. But individuals unknowingly taking a risk, believing the black market substances are legitimate, is a tragedy. That’s why Brainum hopes people watch and absorb this episode.

You can watch Jerry Brainum’s full breakdown in our latest episode of Straight Facts. Make sure to watch new episodes every Wednesday only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network. Or where ever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.