Lawyers for Army Soldier Blame Steroids for Afghanistan Massacre

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The attorneys for Robert Bales, an infantryman with the United States Army, have indicated they plan to blame anabolic steroids for contributing to the “Kandahar Massacre“. Bales has been charged with sixteen counts of murder after he killed 16 civilians, most of them children, in the Afghanistan villages of Balandi and Alkozai on March 11, 2012. The Army added two new charges involving “wrongfully possessing and using” anabolic steroids and one count of “wrongfully consuming alcohol while deployed” in a press statement released by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Civilian attorneys Emma Scanlan and John Henry Browne are part of the defense team representing Bales. They have responded to media inquiries welcoming the addition of the new steroid charges. They seem to believe that the new charges may represent an acknowledgement by military officials that steroids played a role in the murders. The attorneys seem inclined to make steroids a significant part of their defense of Bales.

The strategy of blaming steroids for psychological effects contributing to a crime has been referred to as the “dumbbell defense”. It usually calls upon the alleged steroid-induced aggression commonly referred to as “roid rage” in popular culture.

“Steroid use is going to be an issue in this case, especially where Sgt. Bales got steroids and how he got steroids,” Browne told CNN.

“We are interested to learn about the alleged steroid use — in particular the dosage and alleged frequency of use,” Scanlan told Bloomberg.

The Army did not reveal the dosage and duration of steroid use by Bales. They did not reveal how he acquired the drugs either. They only revealed that Bales used stanozolol sometime between January 1, 2012 and the day of the murders on March 11, 2012. Stanozolol is the generic name for Winstrol tablets and Winstrol Depot. Stanozolol is a popular steroid used by bodybuilders and athletes.

Scanlan has even suggested that Bales may have obtained steroids from Army elite special forces team members in an environment in which he may have been pressured to use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

“Witnesses have indicated that my client got steroids from the special forces team he was stationed with,” said Scanlan. “It will be interesting to see what kind of pressure was placed on conventional forces placed with elite special forces teams.”

Browne dismissed the role that alcohol could have played in his client’s actions calling it a “red herring” charge by the military. He seemed to imply that steroids were the real culprit.

“You don’t got out and commit the type of crimes (murders) he is accused of because you took two sips of alcohol off of someone else’s Gatorade bottle,” said Browne.

“The allegation that he may have used a limited amount of alcohol does not mean that alcohol fueled some kind of homicidal rage,” said Scanlan.

But apparently Browne thinks a couple of tablets of Winstrol could be responsible.

Robert Bales remains incarcerated at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) pending trial.


Lerman, D. (June 1, 2012). Alleged Afghan Shooter Bales Charged With Steroid Use. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-01/alleged-afghan-shooter-bales-charged-with-steroid-use-1-.html

CNN Wire Staff. (June 1, 2012). Army: Soldier accused of killing Afghan villagers charged with steroid use. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/01/us/afghan-soldier-shooting/index.html

Whitlock, C. (June 2, 2012). Army charges Bales with steroid use. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/army-charges-bales-with-steroid-use/2012/06/01/gJQAGvUH8U_story.html