ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Anti-Doping Organisation founding chairman Dr Waqar Ahmad has said due to non-existence of proper laws, the druggists are selling illegal substance including substandard steroids openly in the market which are causing deaths of innocent youth.

Pakistani youth and athletes, who are interested in increasing muscle mass, body composition, speedy recovery, are the victim of these supplements, which are easily available at street gyms and chemist shops.

Dr Waqar, who is also Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Medical Wing Deputy Director General, expressed these views during an interview with The Nation. He said: “These supplements can cause liver failure, heart attack, stroke, hormonal imbalances and infertility, and even death can occur if taken in high doses for prolonged period.”

He said: “We can only ban athletes who are registered with their respective federations and that too for four years or for life, but we have no check and balance on street gyms and others, who are operating in great numbers. They charge only a few hundred or thousand rupees as monthly fee and illegally sell spurious dietary supplements at very high price, which they claim made in Germany or any other reputed brand, which are actually manufactured locally. In reality, they are distributing disabilities and deaths among our youth.”

“The parents can’t refuse their kids, which result in street gym owners making huge money and easily selling their products. These death distributors must be punished severely. The government and federations must introduce proper registration system of gyms and ensure branded dietary supplements should only be available at authorised medical stores.

“Periodic awareness programmes of athletes, their parents and coaches must be held at regular basis at every major city of the country to educate general public about the menace. Unless strict measures are taken against the cheaters, such incidents will continue to occur on regular basis,” he added.

Dr Waqar said like past, his services were always available for this noble cause of educating the youth about the real dangers of using substandard dietary supplements. “With the help of media, Pakistan Sports Board, Pakistan Olympic Association and Anti-Doping Organisation of Pakistan have been actively working on informing about the dangers and side-effects of using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs just for fun and impress others.

“The tragic deaths of bodybuilders is alarming. We can’t wait and watch and allow cheap bodybuilding club owners and responsible to play with the lives of the youth. It is high time that legislation must be made at the government level to ensure gyms, involved in this crime against humanity, must not get off the hook. Severe punishments must be given to all those who are involved, so that no one may dare to repeat it in future,” he added.

“Adulteration of steroidal elements in dietary supplements are lethal for the vital organs of the human body and inflict irreparable damages, which no one can even imagine and it leads to the slow death. The drug regulatory authority must also shape up and conduct raids on all so-called bodybuilding clubs, which are mainly situated in the suburbs or places where they can easily flourish their business. Only effective legislation and its implementation can stop youth from falling prey into the hands of these criminals of humanity,” Dr Waqar concluded.