A Dublin body-builder who competed at a high level internationally was caught with “a toxic brew of medications” following a substantial seizure of steroids at his home, a court has heard.
Father-of-four, Hans Vogel, with an address Cameron Court, Cork Street, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Irish Medicine Boards Act.
The case follows an investigation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which is responsible for regulating medicinal and health products in Ireland.
Judge John Brennan heard at Dublin District Court that on May 26, 2015, Vogel had anabolic steroids, a weight loss medicine and Sildamax, a Viagra-like product containing Sildenafil.
Vogel’s charges related to supply of six types of medicinal products which were regulated or required were prescription controlled.
HPRA enforcement officer Alan Smullen told the court he identified Vogel as the supplier of anabolic steroids and he was granted a warrant to search his apartment.
He was accompanied by gardai and another HPRA officer. Vogel pointed out the steroids and explained to the official that he was a body-builder.
There were 300 Sildamax tablets, 1,500 Dianabol tablets, 20 vials of Testosterone Enanthate, 250 Rexebol tablets, 50 capsules of a product named DNP 200 and 250 Clenbuterol tablets.
The HPRA officer told the court that the Testosterone Enanthate substance was not approved for marketing in Ireland and the court heard it potential for a range of side-effects. Mr Smullen said that Sildamax was for treatment of erectile dysfunction but could have certain consequences for people with heart problems.
He said that DNP 200 which was used as a weight-loss agent but was “not safe for human consumption” and was used in dyes. In 2014 one person in Ireland died from using this substance and another person in the UK has died from consuming it, however, the court was told that they were unrelated deaths, not connected to this investigation and prosecution.
Mr Smullen said Rexobol had the potential for adverse side effects and has been off the market in Ireland for the past 15 years.
Clenbuterol had been used in animal medicine to promote growth, the court was told.
Mr Smullen said it was his opinion the products were not for personal use and he added that since 2009 Vogel had been “on the radar” in relation to the supply of steroids.
During the search a number of diaries, receipts and handwritten notes were located which indicated the sale of these products to members of the public, the court heard. Mr Smullen agreed with prosecution counsel Brian Gageby that a number of Vogel's customers were identified and four witness statements were recorded in which they gave accounts of purchasing products from him.
The diaries for 2014, 2015 and another undated diary which recorded individuals’ names, addresses and prices, were furnished to the judge.
The accused was interviewed and made “certain admissions”.
Dublin man Vogel was a former bus driver and who had got into selling gym wear, the court was told.
Defence counsel Aisling Kelly told Judge John Brennan that her client became a body-builder at a very high level nationally and internationally. His explanation for the use of Sildamax, the medication for erectile dysfunction, was that he used six of them a week even though a GP would prescribe one a week, the court heard.
His marriage broke down after the search of his home and in recent months his mother, for whom he had acted as a full-time carer, had passed away, counsel said. He has ceased his involvement in body-building, Ms Kelly said in pleas for leniency.
His benefits were cut off in 2015 after the HPRA contacted the social welfare authorities. He now has a new job working and character references were furnished to the court. The offence, at district court level, can result in a one-year sentence.
Judge Brennan said it was an extremely serious matter and the evidence was that “there was a toxic brew medications" that could cause serious harm.
Judge Brennan noted he had no prior criminal convictions and and had stopped his involvement in body-building and had turned his life around. He also noted Vogel had pleaded guilty and was otherwise of good character.
He ordered him to pay €1,000 in prosecution expenses and adjourned the case until a date in July. The judge said that if the money was paid he would apply the Probation of Offenders Act which would spare Vogel a criminal conviction and a sentence. He said he was being given a chance.