Amount of performance enhancers seized rose four-fold in just a year
The illegal use of anabolic steroids by athletes seeking to enhance performance, and men wanting a more muscular body, is believed to be at an all-time high in Ireland.
There were 449,410 medicines with steroids detained in 2017, according to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)
The medicines' watchdog said this was a four-fold increase from the 109,006 detained in 2016.
This was due to "intensive investigative activity", said a spokeswoman.
"After an extended intelligence-led operation by HPRA, together with gardaí and Revenue customs service, it culminated with the detention of medicines valued at over €2m from a warehouse in Donegal last year.
"Most of the products detained were anabolic steroid-containing medicines and included the medicinal substances Stanozolol, Methandienone, Oxymetholone and Nandrolone," she said.
While the use of steroids has traditionally been limited to professional athletes and bodybuilders, it is increasingly a choice for young men looking to bulk up or lose weight. The steroids imported to Ireland in 2017 originated in the UK, India and Belgium.
Seizures in 2016 had their origin in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria.
"The HPRA is aware that some of those procuring anabolic steroid-containing medicines from outside Ireland were doing so for the purpose of illicit resupply to others for use in bodybuilding and in sport.
"Others claim to procure for own use for the same reasons.
"The manufacture and supply of legitimate anabolic steroid-containing medicines is authorised and regulated by HPRA and other regulators in order to ensure their safety, quality and efficacy," said the spokeswoman.
"These medicines are subject to prescription-only status which requires that they may only be supplied by a registered pharmacist on foot of a valid prescription from a registered medical practitioner.
"None of the anabolic steroid-containing medicines, referred to, were authorised or legally supplied.
"HPRA is concerned for the health of those consuming anabolic steroid-containing products and advises anyone suffering from any adverse effects from these products should consult their GP for advice.
"These products are manufactured and supplied illegally which are risk to public health. HPRA welcomes engagement with consumers in relation to the supply of these illegal medicines.
"We can be contacted at (01) 634 3436 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Regularly taking anabolic steroids can lead to potentially dangerous medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart attacks.
Physical effects include severe acne, stomach pain, infertility and shrunken testicles.