Not too long ago, the US government effectively banned the sale of prohormones. With "andro" and anabolic steroids now illegal, bodybuilders and athletes were forced to once again rely only on protein powders, healthy foods, and heavy weights. There was no more juicing, no more cheating, and no more drugs being used in the pursuit of fast muscle and improved performance...
What really happened (as predicted by those with at least half a brain) was that many former prohormone users simply turned to "the real thing" when their safe and legal supplements were taken away from them. The steroid black market, which had never really gone away, saw a spike in transactions and increased interest from those who'd never considered using them before.
Given those facts, we thought it was time to once again see what was going on in the black market drug scene. New contributor Anthony Roberts took a trip to the dark side to update us on the thriving new steroid market.
The Pharmacia in Closer Than You Think
When I first started reading up on anabolic steroids, there were relatively few avenues to pursue to actually obtain them. Sure, I could read about them in the few books and handbooks available at the time, but actually getting them was another story altogether.
I had, at the age of eighteen, mapped out what I thought to be the perfect cycle from reading the Underground Steroid Handbook and a bunch of other similar material. Of course, it was an absurdly stupid cycle, and it's probably better that I didn't have any real clue about where to obtain any of the compounds in it.
This was roughly a decade ago, when the most likely place for most people to get their hands on a bottle of Deca was through a trip across the border into Mexico, or through striking up a conversation with that guy in the gym with the thinning hair and the "bacne." I usually left the big guy alone and headed into Mexico for my anabolics.
Shortly thereafter, I subscribed to a newsletter I found nestled in the back of a popular bodybuilding magazine, advertised between the gay personal ads and various "gray-market" supplements. Creepy.
This newsletter basically gave the subscriber addresses for different pharmacies located overseas that he could write to for anabolics. Yes, I said "write to." I'm talking about mail here, the part after the hyphen in the word "e-mail." I actually had to write and mail a letter to a person in England (or Greece or Turkey) in order to get a pricelist mailed back to me for anabolics.
Times have changed though, and now for most people, steroids are reasonably easy to get, and it doesn't involve wading through creepy gay personal ads or going to Mexico. I've done both, and asking me which one I prefer is akin to asking me which Weekend at Bernie's movie I prefer.
The Rise of Powders and Underground 'Roid Labs
This all changed about five years ago, when steroid powders became available on the internet. You can basically Google steroids and come up with 100 different online pharmacies, and even a bunch of other sources for chemicals and powders to make your own anabolics. There are even various recipes available for making your own custom blends of steroids, as well as straight recipes for almost any concentration anabolic steroid you could imagine.
This, of course, gave birth to the rise of the various underground labs that made their wares available on the net. As a consequence, it became even easier for the average user to get steroids. The name of the game in the last half-decade has been the internet in terms of steroid "hot spots." If you're looking to buy steroids, you should put away your Spanish-English dictionary and look no further than your computer.
What makes all of this even more interesting is the fact that several underground laboratories have taken their craft very seriously and have brought several previously discontinued or unavailable products back on the market. So what I'd like to give you is a bit of a buyer's guide for those products (not that I'd ever suggest that you buy anabolic steroids illegally, of course.)
British Dragon, as well as a couple of other underground labs, has recently been producing Oral Turinabol (4-dehydromethyltestosterone), made popular by its widespread use in the GDR Olympic doping program many years ago. Oral Turinabol, often called "OT" or "T-bol" by athletes and bodybuilders, was the most widely used drug for the East German Olympic Doping Program, known formally as "State Plan 14.25."
OT was given to roughly ten thousand athletes whose results were meticulously recorded by scientists, coaches, and doctors working for the East German Olympic program, and consequently it's one of the most exhaustively researched anabolic/androgenic steroids ever produced, with regards to its effects on strength, speed, and athletic training. Jenapharm, the original manufacturer of Oral-Turinabol, discontinued the product just after the GDR program went under.
This drug can be seen as a cross between Dianabol (Methandrostenolone) and Anavar (Oxandrolone), taking what many feel are the best features of each of these drugs and combining them into a nice, clean bulking compound. Oral Turinabol is actually a derivative of Testosterone (the base structure is that of Dianabol, actually) and is typically referred to as a cross between Clostebol and Dianabol.
The base structure is just like Dianabol, with the same 4-chloro alteration seen in Clostebol, which prevents conversion to estrogen. Fortunately, the 4-chloro alteration makes it less subject to aromatization, so gynecomastia (development of breast tissue in males) isn't an issue, nor is excess water retention. Thus, the gains seen on OT are very clean and not the watery gains seen with its sister compound, Dianabol.
Just like Anavar and Dianabol, OT is a 17-alpha-alkylated steroid, which allows it to be orally active and survive the first pass through the liver without being destroyed. Unfortunately, this also increases liver toxicity. OT is, however, not too worrisome in this respect, as dosages typically hover around the 50mg/day mark.
Oral Turinabol's reappearance on the scene – due to some enterprising underground labs – wasn't surprising to many people, myself included. In fact, it was almost easy to predict, given the availability of steroid powders and the laws of supply and demand. It's consequently now one of the few drugs to be in high demand among both athletes as well as bodybuilders, regardless of whether they're on a bulking cycle or cutting cycle. This is due to its "sexy" reputation from the GDR doping days, I suspect.
Athletes who've recently been able to use this drug have reported that it's nearly as good for bulking as Dianabol, but with much less water retention. From what I've seen, weight gain with Oral Turinabol is generally a bit less than what's experienced with classic oral bulking agents such as Dianabol or Anadrol, but the gains are much more "dry" and lean.
Many of OT's new fans have compared the quality of gains experienced with Oral Turinabol to be similar to Anavar, but with more actual weight gain.
The next interesting compound to make a comeback is Miotolan (Furazabol), produced by both D-Pharm and International Pharmaceuticals. Until now, I've never even heard of Miotolan being available on the black market.
It's actually a very interesting compound, once you wade through the science-stuff and figure out that it actually performs very much like Winstrol. What we have here in Miotolan (and Winstrol) is a modified DHT molecule with a 17-alpha-methyl group (making it both orally available and liver-toxic, as you know).
The Miotolan/Winstrol comparison is certainly warranted, as they have the same exact structure, but with one difference: Miotolan has a furazan group instead of the pyrazole group, which drastically changes their respective effects on your cholesterol. Winstrol is incredibly harsh on HDL and LDL cholesterol, while Miotolan actually improves your cholesterol values.
So why is that interesting? Well, unlike many DHT-based compounds, Miotolan can cause a decrease in plasma cholesterol levels, thus making it a reasonably safe oral. In fact, when someone with cholesterol issues does a cycle, I'd be reasonably confident recommending that it contain Miotolan every time. That difference is the only one I can realistically see, with regards to Miotolan and Winstrol, because their anabolic and androgenic properties are basically the same, as is their ability to bind to the androgen receptor (low).
As with other DHT derivatives, Miotolan isn't estrogenic or progestenic in any way and doesn't aromatize. You'll only have to worry about the usual DHT-produced side effects from it (acne, hair loss, etc.) and of course potential liver problems in higher dosages. I'd say, with respect to dosing, given the similarities between this compound and Winstrol, roughly 25-100mgs/day would be appropriate.
Brave New World
In a way, it's a good thing that the availability of anabolics has created a bit of a buyer's market and has given rise to a host of discontinued products being made available. This is good for the experienced athlete and bodybuilder, as it drives prices down and allows access to a greater variety of anabolics with properties that will greatly enhance the advanced user's cycle.
In other ways, it's not so hot that we all have access to tons of previously hard to get or re-released steroids. The short-term effect is that this new access is allowing a new crop of novice steroid users to formulate cycles as absurdly complicated (and stupid) as the one I told you I'd planned a decade ago.
But such is the nature of the black market steroid trade. In many ways, it's the same as it ever was. But with the advent of the internet, it's also a brand new marketplace. One rule remains the same, however: buyer beware.
[Editor's note: Despite the author's name, he is not related to Bill Roberts]