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Selling androgenic anabolic steroids by the pound: identification and analysis of popular websites on the Internet


Corresponding author: Marco Cosentino, MD PhD, Department of Clinical Medicine, Section of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Insubria, Via Ottorino Rossi n. 9, 21100 Varese VA, Italy. Tel: +39 0332 217410/397410, Fax: +39 0332 217409/397409, E-mail


Internet websites offering androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) were identified and available products were examined. Keywords for the website search were: “anabolic steroids,” “anabolic steroids buy,” “anabolic steroid purchase.” The first 10 websites offering AAS in the first 10 pages of results were considered. At least two AAS-containing products per website were selected. Thirty AAS-selling websites were identified, mainly located in the United States (46.7%) and Europe (30%). Most websites sold other anabolic/ergogenic products (clenbuterol, 76.7%; GH/IGF, 60.0%; thyroid hormones, 46.7%; erythropoietin, 30.0%; insulin, 20.0%) or products for AAS-related adverse effects (mainly: estrogen antagonists, 63.3%; products for erectile dysfunction, 56.7%; 5α-reductase inhibitors, 33.3%; anti-acne products, 33.3%). AAS were sold as medicines (69.6%) or as dietary supplements (30.4%). AAS in medicines were mainly: nandronole (20.4%), methandrostenolone (18.4%), and testosterone (12.2%). Dietary supplements contained mainly DHEA and included several fake compounds. Manufacturers were declared for 97.9% of medicines and 66.7% of dietary supplements; however, several manufacturers were not found on the Internet. Described benefits were usually few adverse effects and no estrogenicity. Toxicity was seldom reported and presented as mild. Recommended doses were two–fourfold higher than current medical recommendations. In conclusion, misleading information and deceiving practices were common findings on AAS-selling websites, indicating their deleterious potential for public health.