As many of you may know, in December of 2014, a prohormone ban was signed into law restricting the use of certain substances and the supplements containing them, and having massive implications for the bodybuilding world at large. The legislation restricts the use of prohormones with a similar structure, derivation, and (more importantly) purpose as anabolic steroids. What this means in layman’s terms is that any supplement that is meant to increase muscle mass and testosterone the way a steroid would went off the market as of the moment the bill was passed.
The health and fitness community has been understandably outraged at the news and is questioning the rights of lawmakers to determine what they should be putting in their bodies. After all, what kind of standard allows people to imbibe alcoholic beverages that led to the deaths of 88,000 people a year from 2006-2010 according to the CDC, but doesn’t allow a substance which cannot be positively tied to mortality?
But this isn’t the first time that the government has used flawed logic and bias to make its decisions. Lots of substances are illegal for a reason, but the criterion by which lawmakers classify them and thereby outlaw them has always been somewhat sketchy.
Take marijuana, for example: while the substance obviously has certain side effects, they are generally considered to be somewhat mild (even by medical professionals), especially when compared with other schedule I drugs with which cannabis has been classified. Imagine receiving the same penalty for possessing marijuana as for possessing heroin! The government’s reasons for classifying the drug so inaccurately? Pressure from a bunch of paranoid parents in the ’70s and ’80s and the political agendas of certain lawmakers. Never mind the science.
The same thing can be said of the prohormone ban. While listed as a Schedule III substance, indicating some potential for abuse, some known medical uses, and moderate to low psychological dependence, prohormones have mostly suffered from political pressure and bad press. It’s easy for lawmakers to generalize about the dangers of steroids and act like they are passing laws in the interests of the people, but what about those people’s rights?
Prohormones arguably only pose a threat to the people who use them – unlike legal substances like alcohol and tobacco – and are perfectly safe when used correctly. If you used these prohormones intelligently and followed the appropriate cycles, they only enhanced your body and helped you to achieve fitness goals. The pills carried no greater risk than you might otherwise face just by working yourself so hard. It begs the question: shouldn’t you be able to decide for yourself?
So what does all this mean for you? Well, at present, it’s illegal to buy or sell some of your favorite prohormones and there’s not much to be done about it in the short term. In the meantime, you can do three things:
- Keep working out!
- Find alternatives that are legal.
- Educate people and raise awareness on the topic. Perhaps with some deft campaigning and some well-directed petitions, popular opinion will sway politicians in the right direction.