(By Max Rosten)
In order to understand the quality of anabolic steroids sold on the black markets and used by millions of athletes worldwide, one has to understand the ways these medicaments are produced. Most of steroids sold on the US market come from China – especially after the 2005 roundup on the Mexican producers. Some sources claim about 99% of raw materials for steroids sold in the US and Canada are of Chinese origin, although I guess there is also certain amount coming from Eastern Europe and Balkans. Chinese raw material is usually processed in semi-legal laboratories abroad (I call them semi-legal because they usually reside in countries where selling anabolic steroids is either tolerated or considered minor offense), or imported to US and bottled in illegal laboratories, often run by one or couple of persons.
As the pressure on illicit steroid trade is mounting, producers often find it easier to sell fake medicaments, even if they risk their reputation or loss of the customer base. Most of counterfeit steroids are safe – they are simply lacking the active substance that is a small part of the pill or liquid anyway. However, most anabolic steroids produced in such way cannot be dosed properly: they typically contain up to 40% of active substance more or less. Then there is the third category that can be considered counterfeit: those steroids contain only a small trace of the active substance.
From my own testing of more than 300 different products from 42 online-pharmacies I came to the following numbers:
65% of the medicaments contained no or very little active substance
23% contained significantly more or (more often) less active substance
12% were either original drugs or high-quality black-market generics
*Please notice that there was 0% good quality Human Growth Hormone among the tested products.
I did not test the steroids sold on street and if I will, I can do so only in Europe, where I reside. In Europe, there is probably a more efficient black market selling the original drugs from respectable producers, especially the generic brands in Eastern Europe, but I know of many fake medicaments from Balkans (especially Bulgaria and Turkey) that are very hard to distinguish from the original brands. There are also dozens of underground laboratories in almost every European country (much more in former Eastern bloc).