The weak anti-doping laws of New Zealand may encourage more and more teenagers to use anabolic androgenic steroids, according to the world’s leading anti-doping watchdog.

The use of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs) in New Zealand has now extended its reach beyond bodybuilding circles as more and more recreational gym-goers are seeking a quick fix. Anti-doping advocates and officials have raised concerns that people could be unaware of the potential health risks that are associated with abuse of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs such as anabolic androgenic steroids that may be sometimes manufactured in unsanitary, unregulated backyard labs.

Fairfax Media reported that anti-doping advocates and officials fear that the use of PIEDs by some gym-goers may see young talent in the world of sports go astray. It reported that some of the top schoolboy rugby teams of New Zealand have been canvassed on the issue. It is believed that some gangs have recognized lucrative supply and sale opportunities in a low-stakes market.

David Howman, World Anti-Doping Agency director general, remarked the availability of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs in New Zealand and other countries was a ‘‘major concern’’. Howman added those who are buying PIEDs range from teenagers who want to look good to older people who want access to the fountain of youth. Howman expressed fears that the increased availability of drugs at a recreational level may result in more doping in sport, especially among young athletes who want to secure rewarding contracts. The World Anti-Doping Agency director general added this is an increasing problem for the health of our kids.

Officials remark regulation of gyms and tougher penalties for import and supply of PIEDs are required. According to Global Intelligence, organized criminal links to the trafficking of PIEDs have been revealed and there was stack loads of money to be made.

Graeme Steel, Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive, remarked he received reports on regular intervals that suggested the use of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs was growing within the recreational arena. He added some of the leading gymnasiums in the country were at the core of the problems and added gyms are certainly the meeting point for it and some gyms, and he is not saying all of them, are just like the wild west out there – it’s just anything goes. The Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive also said athletes need to be making pretty good choices about which gyms they use and urged gym owners to clean up their act and take some responsibility. He went on to remark that the conundrum for some of them is a significant part of their clientele may be involved in drug use and commercially it may not be a good thing for them to stop it.

Police were monitoring gang links to the PIED market, said outgoing Organized and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand deputy director Detective Superintendent Ray van Beynen. Beynen added we have had reports of the outlaw motorcycle gangs dealing with these substances and to the gangs they represent higher profit, lower risk than some of the Class A, B, C drugs.

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