A local bodybuilder says the labels on boxes, vials and bottles seized by Saskatoon police recently are all too familiar among the city’s gym rats.
Officers came away with 90,000 pills, $300,000 and an undisclosed number of vials full of injectable drugs after finding a home lab in a Nutana apartment block.
The home-brewed drugs were packaged to look like pharmaceutical-grade versions of substances like Dianabol, testosterone enanthate and oxymetholone — all anabolic steroids. Police also reported finding versions of female hormones and other substances they’ve yet to identify.
31-year-old Jesse Cann has been a competitive bodybuilder in Saskatoon since his late teens.
“I wasn’t shocked. We were kind of bound for a story like this to hit Saskatoon. Honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner,” he said of the bust.
Cann said he’s seen more and more people using steroids as Saskatoon’s economy has grown.
“You can go into any gym in the city and once you spend some time there and build some trust there, you can find (steroids) in any gym — in any city,” he said.
He added that it’s unlikely the recent police raid will have made much of a dent in Saskatoon’s steroid supply.
“To be truthful, it’s kind of small potatoes. Like, I get that the cops want to pump it up as a win, but…(it’s) a drop in the bucket,” he said.
Cann said there are different tiers of users depending on the money they’re willing to spend and who they know. He said he’s heard of professionally made drugs brought into the country from places where they’re legal. He’s also seen people suffer the consequences of using steroids churned out in filthy home labs.
“Staph infections, other bacterial infections or, quite frankly, just not the substance that’s advertised as being in it that can also create some issues as well,” he said.
In the bodybuilding world, Cann said steroid use is widely tolerated, but rarely talked about with outsiders. Cann said he can remember going to gyms where people were obviously training with an unnatural edge.
“It took me three years of knowing them before they’d finally come forward and actually say that they do. When anyone looking from the outside would know that they do. Like, you look like a Mardi Gras float buddy, you’re not natural,” he said.
But it’s far from just bodybuilders fueling the demand, according to Cann.
“You’d go broke just selling to the bodybuilding community,” he said.
Cann said plenty of athletes from all sports, even at the amateur level, are using steroids. He said he’s also seen any number of men who take them out of vanity or even psychological disorders.
“Body image is the prevailing thing. We are very hung up as a society on what we look like. So I’d say that’s the number one contributing factor, along with the overall attitude of a performance-based society. We have to be bigger, stronger and faster to get noticed, basically,” he said.
So far, Saskatoon police haven’t laid any charges from the Oct. 2 bust.