Anabolic steroids are booming in Switzerland. Young people compare themselves to people who use Testo…
Robin BaniRingier journalism student
Sandro Ricci* (27) wants to get stronger. In his hand he holds a syringe. There is a mirror in front of him. In it he sees his bare bottom. He starts, stabs and shoots. A total of three times: Testosterone Enanthate, Masteron and Deca-Durabolin. His health comes second. He injects the anabolic steroids again every three days. After two months he takes a break until he draws up the next injections. Because: Ricci wants to be more beautiful. By that he means bulging muscles, broad shoulders and thick veins.
That’s what Ricci says in a conversation with SonntagsBlick. He’s been clean for a year now. He currently works as a trainer in a studio and wants to remain anonymous so as not to lose his job. “One has” or “one is”, that’s how Ricci talks about himself. He rarely uses the word “I”. Our society stigmatizes people who take anabolic steroids. Although the “pump” substances are widespread. A study by the Center for Addiction Medicine in Zurich concludes that more than 200,000 people in Switzerland consume anabolic steroids in the course of their lives. Ascending trend.
The investigation was led by Philip Bruggmann (51), specialist in general internal medicine. He says: “Ideal body images spread through social networks. Young people compare themselves to people who use anabolic steroids. They want to look the same, so they turn to steroids. This creates a spiral.”
Stroke possible as a side effect
Influencers like strength athlete Mark Bell (46) talk online about their experiences. Half a million people follow him on Instagram. In a video, an interlocutor tells Bell: “Testosterone replacement therapy has a positive impact on your life. You have more confidence and your body changes a bit.” He does not mention any risks or side effects. Ricci watched videos and podcasts like this. To find out more, he browsed through YouTube and numerous forums. He also asked his “pump” friends for advice.
This is typical for Professor Bruggmann: “Doctors who are not specially trained in anabolic steroids usually react with caution, even to the point of being stigmatizing.” Often the knowledge for solid advice is missing. As a result, those affected turn to their community. The problem with this is that it is usually not specialist knowledge that is imparted, but at best half-knowledge. The risks are downplayed and positive effects are emphasized.
This often ends disastrously. As a side effect of anabolic steroids, for example, the coronary arteries can narrow. Strokes are also possible. Bruggmann explains: “In medicine, people receive testosterone replacement therapy when their own production is too low. These are comparatively small amounts.” In order to achieve strong muscle growth, it takes a lot more testosterone. “With these high dosages, side effects are unavoidable.”
Other active ingredients than stated
Ricci accepted that. After his first week of splashing, his nose started bleeding and he developed acne on his back. Head hair soon fell out. The mammary glands grew larger while the testicles shrunk. He no longer wanted sex – a typical consequence of anabolic steroids. Online shops promise help and place testosterone doses right next to Viagra pills. Ricci felt increasingly uncomfortable. He had hair transplanted and his mammary glands surgically reduced. Then he stopped all substances and became depressed. Anabolic steroids are addictive.
And that’s not even all of the dangers. According to the Center for Addiction Medicine, three quarters of all anabolic steroid products are counterfeit. They contain other active ingredients than specified or are not dosed correctly. Medication derived from veterinary medicine is peddled on the Internet and by dealers. Or illegal substances that are manufactured in secret laboratories and sold on the black market. A multi-million franc business for criminal networks.
Even teenagers want anabolic steroids
This is also confirmed by Jonas Personeni from the Swiss Sport Integrity (SSI) Foundation: “The banned doping substances come mainly from Eastern Europe and Asian countries.” SSI works with law enforcement agencies and investigates intercepted prohibited substances. In recent years, the number of imports of anabolic steroids has increased, indicating that there is a trend towards these products.
Ricci also observes this at his work in the fitness center. More and more interested people come to him with questions. “Even 16-year-olds want to try Testo.” A worrying development, even he thinks. Ricci is not currently using anabolic steroids. But: “One day I might want to start again.” Ricci misses the strength during training. And the bulging muscles when he stands in front of the mirror.
* Name changed