DESPITE the law criminalising the use and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs in Qatar, the use of illegal steroids and growth hormones among bodybuilders and gym-goers is far from diminished.
The practice continues extensively owing to a lack of awareness among the users. They are unaware of the consequences of the extended use of synthetic hormones, regardless of the precautions taken in the process.
National institutions concerned with steroid abuse continue to boost their efforts to combat the unhealthy practice.
General Manager of Anti-Doping Lab Qatar (ADLQ) Dr Mohammed Alsayrafi, in an interview recently, told Qatar Tribune that a research project on anabolic steroids (AS) is being planned collectively by the organisation's Life Sciences Research division, Toxicology and Multipurpose Laboratory, and Doping Analysis Laboratory.
Dr Alsayrafi pointed out that ADLQ, being the only anti-doping lab in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the African continent, is unique as it has been given more responsibilities than the other anti-doping labs.
"Our main role as a lab is research and analysis. However, we are closely connected to the anti-doping community in Qatar and, therefore, collaborate with other institutions such as the Qatar Anti-Doping Commission and support their regulatory role through research," he said.
"We are collaborating with the remaining 34 labs worldwide. Within the region, we attend the Regional Anti-Doping Organisations' (RADO) annual meetings and invite the participating parties to our own annual symposium," he added.
According to Dr Alsayrafi, ADLQ's research on anabolic steroids is going to be co-funded by the government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it will aim to achieve global standards for scientific development and the wellbeing of athletes locally and internationally.
Speaking to QT, Fahad Mahmood, a personal trainer, said:"I have seen 'fitness' growing in Doha over the last 20 years. Earlier, established gyms here used to sell protein powders, mass/weight gainers and steroids only on request. However, nowadays, abuse of steroids and illegal substance is flourishing thanks to the fitness and bodybuilding craze."
Mahmood adde:"In fact you may even find syringes lying around some well-equipped gyms. Steroids have become an integral part of the life of elite lifters or professional bodybuilding competitors. Of course, addiction to such substances is extremely dangerous."