Dubai: Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing Sector at the UAE Ministry of Health and vice-president of pharmaceutical registering and pricing within UAE, told Gulf News in a phone interview that anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and human growth hormones (HGH) are used as medical treatments and can only be prescribed by a qualified doctor or a medical professional.
“These drugs are available in the country, and should be prescribed legally. Prescribing such medication should only be through the concerned physician, and unless there is a medically established reason to precribe them, he is not allowed to do it.”
Dr Al Amiri said that it is illegal to use AAS and HGH for recreational purposes. Gyms are in violation of the law if they sell such substances for that purpose.
“It is against the law, and logic, for people to be turning to steroids to gain muscle. The ministry and the departments that have licensed sport clubs should be notified if any sport centres are found to be distributing these drugs to bodybuilders,” he added.
Dr Al Amiri said the ministry does not have the authority to crack down on sports centres since they are licensed not by the health authorities but by the Dubai Municipality and the Department of Economic Development (DED).
“If we discover that it’s being practised at [any] sport centre, we would notify Dubai Municipality and DED and work with them to take legal action against the centres.”
Al Amiri called for increased public awareness through the ministry, Dubai Municipality and DED (Dubai Economic Department) on the issue. “More inspections can be carried out to ensure that the people involved are caught,” he said.
A top Dubai Municipality official said they haven’t received any complaints on gyms selling steroids, and that they would shut down the gym if such activities were taking place in it.
“We haven’t come across gyms selling steroids and it’s difficult to [zero in on] specific gyms as they would be selling it to the people they trust [in secrecy]. We conduct regular inspections and have not found gyms selling such drugs,” said Hafid Guloom, head of the Health Monitoring Section of the Public Health and Safety Department, Dubai Municipality.
He spoke of one instance wherein a complaint to the municipality about a gym owner selling steroids resulted in an investigation. However, as the concerned individual denied all charges, the case could not be proved.
“There needs to be a specific case for us to investigate,” said Guloom. “We have the authority to close down gyms or fine them if they are found to be selling steroids, but we haven’t found anything until now. We have to receive a complaint on our toll free line.”
If such malpractices are taking place, Guloom said they could be happening in a secret fashion in sports clubs which makes it difficult to catch the violators.