NY Prosecutor: `Culture Of Competitiveness' Behind Use Of Illegal Steroids

Sunday, March 4th 2007, 4:56 pm

By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ America's ``culture of competitiveness'' is helping to fuel the demand for illegal, performance-enhancing steroids, said a prosecutor overseeing a widespread investigation of online steroid sales.

Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares said Sunday the country's sports culture has led to dangerous use of performance-enhancing drugs.

``We've created a culture of competitiveness. ... An industry can only thrive like that if you have a willing consumer base,'' said Soares, who appeared in New York on Sunday with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. ``You want to make varsity. You want to go to this college.''

Nine people in three states have been arrested in the investigation and two Orlando, Fla., pharmacies were raided last week. As many as 24 could face felony charges. Soares refused to discuss specifics of the ongoing investigation on Sunday.

The district attorney has said his focus is on shutting down drug distributors and physicians writing illicit prescriptions instead of buyers.

The Times Union of Albany reported last week that former baseball star Jose Canseco, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. were among the network's customers.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to sell prescriptions of controlled substances, and also seeks to put one steroid, human growth hormone, on a list of federally regulated controlled substances. Unlawful sale would be punishable by five years in prison.

Schumer also said the legislation would outlaw the bad-faith sale of prescriptions by doctors who have never met their patients. The physicians who are hired by the online distributors ``have become no more than drug dealers,'' he said.

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