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‘Vanity culture behind the abuse of steroids’

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‘YOU’VE GOT to be seen to conform to a certain look, a size, a lifestyle – it’s unachievable,’ says Jan’s Fitness owner, Chris Renouf, who believes vanity culture plays a role in encouraging the use and abuse of steroids.

(Shutterstock)

Following last week’s sentencing of Andris Noviks for the importation of illegal steroids, local gyms have condemned the use of the ‘archaic and dangerous’ drugs.

‘We, as a gym culture, are quite fragmented here in Guernsey, I don’t hear from Beau Sejour, just like they don’t hear from Bodyworks. However if you look at the bigger picture, you will see that gym users and people everywhere in all walks of life are being constantly pressured to attain a look that is plainly unachievable. The people we see in magazines on social media are genetic freaks, airbrushed to perfection. You can draw parallels from all walks of life and they all feed into this idea of attaining perfection,’ said Mr Renouf.

He said he thought this was an isolated case but that due to the relatively short time since steroids were made illegal that ‘cultural misunderstanding’ may well occur.

‘We’ve got a lot brilliant people coming over to Guernsey from those traditionally Eastern Bloc countries: Latvia, Estonia, but now the Czech Republic and Romania. These are countries where you can go into the chemist and buy these products off the shelf. I can understand how, especially when someone hasn’t left the EU to get here, they may not be aware they are breaking the law when they reach Guernsey. We almost need some form of checklist in the language of those arriving here so they are aware of what rules they are breaking. In the EU you have so many countries all aligned under some fiscal policy but actually completely at odds when it comes to domestic law – it is confusing.’

Despite this, Mr Renouf acknowledges that steroids are illegal and anyone found using them at his gym would be banned for life.

‘You just don’t need them nowadays, they are old-fashioned. Just like we are progressing with green energy away from fossil fuels, we, in fitness, are doing the same – you can achieve whatever you like with a balanced lifestyle and diet focused around natural supplements.’

Bodyworks owner Alex Anderson echoed Mr Renouf’s sentiments: ‘I have no moral standing on the subject, it is illegal and it is as simple as that you know. I think the guy involved was very unwise to do what he did. I run a hardcore gym here so people automatically think they must have that [steroid substances] around, but the truth is you get there through very hard work and committed determination.’

Manager and personal trainer at La Grande Mare, Liam Smyth, is sympathetic to insecurities people have about their physical appearance and believes this is part of the problem when it comes to body enhancement drugs.

'Apparently use is quite rife among the 18 years and up. It’s always been around, but maybe more mainstream now due to the presence of social media placing pressure on men to achieve what seems to be the “desired look”.

‘Plus, I can’t help but feel that modern society is inherently lazy, so steroids provide a quicker fix. Saying that, work still needs to be put in but it appears, to some people, to be the magic wand.’

Yves LeMarquand

By Yves LeMarquand
News reporter

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