Steroid laws prohibiting the use of anabolic steroids were passed largely in response to the widespread use of steroids in competitive sports. The anti-doping movement had hoped that prohibiting steroids would deter athletes from using these “illegal” drugs. The criminalization of anabolic steroids has had little impact on steroid use by athletes. The steroid laws have rarely been used to prosecute athletes involved with doping. Non-competitive athletes and recreational bodybuilders are the ones who have suffered the consequences of violating these laws.
Who goes to prison for selling steroids? People like Ashley Dewayne Rivers of Alabama who was sentenced to five months imprisonment after he sold approximately $2000 worth of steroids to an Alabama doctor. Rivers was not the target of the federal investigation. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The doctor’s estranged wife told the FBI that her husband was involved with black market steroids. The vengeful wife’s tip led federal agents to Rivers.
Rivers was a small-time dealer who reportedly sold steroids locally to friends at his gym. James Robinson, the defense attorney for Rivers, stated that his client was cognizant of the legal risks involved with selling steroids and accepted full responsibility for his actions.
“Mr. Rivers knew when he got into this that there was a risk to this. He never for one minute was misguided into this,” said Robinson. “Ashley knows this is his fault. He’s a good man. He’s a moral man. But he broke the law, and he’s admitted it.”
Robinson had asked the judge to sentence Rivers to probation. After all, Rivers was the primary caregiver for his wheelchair-bound wife, his two adopted children and the three children of his disabled brother. In his spare time, he raised $40,000 for victims displaced by the tornadoes that decimated their homes and communities. Sentencing Rivers to probation would allow him to continue the positive work for his family and community.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brinson disagreed with the defense recommendation and argued that, Rivers’ cooperation notwithstanding, the “serious offense” of steroid dealing deserved prison time. U.S. District Judge William Steele was sympathetic to Rivers’ situation but ultimately agreed with AUSA Brinson and sentenced Rivers to 5 months in prison.
The steroid laws have had little impact on professional athletes. They are not prosecuted under the steroid laws. Instead, otherwise law-abiding individuals seem to bear the brunt of the steroid laws.
Kirby, B. (January 24, 2012). North Alabama man gets 5 months for conspiracy to sell steroids to Monroeville doctor. Retrieved from http://blog.al.com/live/2012/01/north_alabama_man_gets_5_month.html