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Floyd Landis, professional cyclist who recently had 2006 Tour de France victory overturned due to doping  (Source: Reuters)
Investigation cracks open world ring of online steroid distribution

This week the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) capped the largest ever crackdown on illegal steroids and growth hormones.  The international investigation, Operation Raw Deal, involved nine countries and yielded staggering results.  Are you ready for this?

In the U.S. 56 labs were shutdown with police authorities arresting more than 120 people.  Materials seized included 242 kilograms of raw steroid powder - equivalent to over 11 million doses -- 11.4 million dosage units, 71 weapons, including automatic assault rifles, 27 pill presses, 25 land vehicles, three boats, and $6.5 million in cash.  

After the DEA shutdown BALCO’s performance-enhancing drug ring four years ago you may be wondering what nation(s) are the source of these illicit materials.  

As it turns out the "wild west" of the east is up to no good again.  Although head DEA investigator John Gilbride cited the country’s cooperation, it was found that 99 percent of the raw material was produced and exported by China. Certainly embarrassing of the country slated to host next year's Summer Olympics.

U.S. distributors were able to easily order the unrefined powder over the internet and process it at home, using unsanitary devices such as bathroom sinks and tubs to mix the drugs.  These dealers distributed their products to end users largely via internet forums and social sites such as MySpace and ChemicallyEvolved.com.  The latter site, a bodybuilding forum that was accessible this morning, is offline this afternoon.  

The DEA now has thousands of names of clients and although it has not divulged individual identities, the department commented that users ranged from athletes to law enforcement workers to ordinary people who just wanted to look good.  It likely won't be long before the names of professional superstars will be leaked and released to the media.

Governing sports agencies in the United States and across the world have endured a long battle against the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.  The National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) are two long-standing organizations that have had to create better rules to attempt to combat the use of steroids.  State athletic comissions, the Nevada State Athletic Commission being the best example, are responsible for sanctioning sports such as professional boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA).

Professional American cyclist Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France cycling race, recently had his title stripped due to a positive doping test last year.  MMA fighter Sean Sherk, former light heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), tested positive for anabolic steroid nandrolone, causing him to be stripped of his title, fined and suspended.  Professional athletes ranging from baseball, football, weight lifting, wrestling entertainment, swimming and sprinting also have tested positive for various performance enhancing drugs.




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