Abuse of government website by steroid users denied
- 16 April 2014
- From the section Wales
Claims that steroid dealers are using publically-funded drug testing as guidance for which drugs to take are denied by the government.
BBC Wales has found bodybuilding websites discuss using the Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances Project (Wedinos).
One contributor said his dealer planned to test his products via the scheme.
Last year Public Health Wales warned the number of underground steroid labs had risen to a worrying level.
Wedinos, run by Public Health Wales, was set up to tackle the increase in new psychoactive substances, better known as legal highs.
It is designed to identify what chemicals are in circulation and then use that information to reduce the harm they can cause.
People can send in substances anonymously and then view a basic report on the Wedinos website outlining what the substance contains.
Several test results posted on the site identify the presence of anabolic steroids in samples it has received.
And, it has been discovered, that such results are being discussed on internet forums.
One contributor said: "Any of the UK/Welsh folks tried the Wedinos drug testing service? It's free, funded by the Welsh government primarily to test legal highs - but I've noticed from the sample results that folks are getting steroids and ancillaries tested too.
"It won't be for everyone as they don't measure purity levels - but it'll resolve some 'my gear is totally bunk' arguments."
Other comments include: "I got a tub (of a particular steroid) as it checked out on Wedinos" and "I'm praying Wedinos test the sample I've sent them but if not I need to find the most likely to be legit".
Anabolic steroids are prescription-only drugs. It is not illegal to possess them for personal use but dealing carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
Regular use can cause side effects ranging from infertility, high blood pressure, heart attacks, aggression and mood swings.
Darren Millar, the Welsh Conservatives' health spokesman, called for the Wedinos website to be scrapped because of the scope for abuse.
"There is potentially significant harm that can be done to people's lives as a result of this site, that's why I want it taken down from public view," he said.
But Dr Mohan De Silva from the Newport-based drugs charity Kaleidoscope said that Wedinos was right to test any steroid samples it receives from individual users.
He said: "It wasn't set up to test the purity or quantity of steroids out there but clearly if somebody has been given a substance they're using for whatever reason I think they should have the same level of access to test what they're taking.
"It may be that over time there may need to be a further look at exactly the volume that's coming in for steroid use, but until then I think it's something that should carry on as is."
In a joint statement, the Welsh government and Public Health Wales read: "Wedinos does not report on the purity of specific products but identifies and reports the chemical compounds within a sample, and highlights adverse effects users have experienced," the statement said.
"As such, it cannot be used as a quality assurance tool or be considered to promote the use of steroids and image enhancing drugs.
"The accessibility of the service is important as we know that many of those most at risk from substance misuse would not be in touch with treatment services but it remains vital that harm reduction messages reach these groups."