A 12-member joint team of Noida Police and Uttar Pradesh health officials arrested three individuals Saturday from Greater Noida for allegedly producing and selling fake steroids. The raid sheds light on a booming market that centres around ‘six-pack abs in x days’. The desire to look like the next muscular actor/celebrity is so rampant that users completely disregard both the dosage limit and the authenticity of the steroids they consume. Across NCR, gyms are often the epicentre of fake steroid rackets because they push customers to take them to gain muscles quickly.
Items worth Rs 2 crore have been seized from the three people arrested, identified as Anuj Kumar Singh (30), Bachan Kumar (24) and Pritam (25), said Meerut division drug inspector Vaibhav Babber, who also led the team that conducted the raid based on a tip-off.
Elamaran G, additional DCM (crime) Gautam Buddh Nagar, said Anuj has completed BTech in biotechnology from a Chennai institute. The men purchased raw materials from Praveen Dhankad and Somveer Dhankad, from Rewari in Haryana, and and made tablets and injections out of them that were then sold to users. The two men are currently on the run. The officer denied media reports claiming that ‘fake protein supplements’ have also been recovered.
Anuj, the main accused, had worked in a pharmaceutical company for six years before starting the unit to manufacture fake steroids. The products would be bottled in containers with fake lables of some Russian and other foreign firms, which is punishable by law.
Inspector Vaibhav Babber said that the samples recovered have been sent to Food Safety & Drug Administration Uttar Pradesh inLucknow to check for components. But mostly, these steroids contain the hormone testosterone, which aids in building muscle.
Steroid and the obsession with ‘cuts, ‘pump’
Anabolic steroids, also known as androgenic steroids, are synthetic derivatives of testosterone. In India, legal and illegal use of anabolic steroids are gaining popularity in the world of bodybuilding. While professional bodybuilders would occasionally use towards steroids once, it is now fairly common even in neighbourhood gyms. Taken either orally or through injection, these steroids aid in getting lean with extremely low body fat levels, and gaining muscle faster by fastening recovery period, among others.
Babber too speculates that the market for fake steroids seized at the Bhumi Gold Avenue raid in Greater Noida are probably Haryana and Delhi, where there has always been a popularity for a certain kind of physique among men.
Jatin Jamdagni, who runs Delhi Combat Club, says, “Everyone wants to build muscles and have a muscular body in two months. They look at athletes and want bodies like theirs without realising that many use steroids, even if they do not accept it openly.”
Occasionally, even trainers urge people to try steroids to get that dream body ‘quickly’ and not everyone reads through the potential side-effects before opting for steroids. In the fitness industry, aesthetics often overpower the desire to be fit.
Babber too echoes this and adds how wanting ‘cuts’ (in physique parlance) often means people, especially men, are willing to get injected with steroids. This creates a market that is largely unregulated with rampant misuse of ‘foreign brands’ labels and fake products, including whey protein to be sold off for ‘good bargains’ to those who wish to get a body like their next favourite actor as fast as possible.
A burgeoning market
India has a burgeoning market of steroids in bodybuilding, and it is mostly unregulated. Steroids should be taken in consultation with a medical professional. But in the gym industry focused on quick ‘six-pack abs’, that rarely happens if ever.
Dr Ayush Dhawan said that if taken in unsupervised amounts, which is pretty frequent in the business of bodybuilding in India, it can cause severe side-effects like male-pattern baldness, risk to heart and kidney as well as liver. But the allure of ‘looking strong’ is such that one often buys and uses these products indiscriminately.
When taken in moderation, steroids can help enhance performance, but pursuit of ‘rock-hard’ bodies means one amps up the dose by even 100 times. Selling steroids is always the easy way of making a quick buck, especially when men in gyms are often pushed to have bulging muscles.
Social media does not help matters when everyone puts up pictures of ‘pump’ and sets unrealistic expectations among those following them, because rarely do these pictures address the time taken to build those muscles. This allows for rackets like the one in Noida to exist and flourish.
(Edited by Prashant)