Anabolic Steroid Laws Around the World

The subject of legalizing steroid use remains a contentious issue throughout the globe. While steroid use in the US is strictly limited to medical prescriptions, you can easily buy them at the local drug store in Mexico without the need for a doctor’s prescription.

All these countries have their reasons for permitting or prohibiting steroid use, and the countries that choose to legalize them do so on the basis of encouraging their citizens to take personal responsibility on the issue.

You may be surprised to learn that some of the strictest countries regarding steroids, used to have much different laws which made these drugs perfectly legal.

Some of these countries are of the view that the illicitness of steroid use stems from the initial steroid ban of the Olympic games, which was followed by similar action from most of the major sports leagues. So, while steroid use might be considered legal in their countries, professional athletes participating in these sports are not allowed to use them, for fear of failing the universal drug test that’s carried out. And for many, the risk of losing their reputation and career is too big to even consider using them.

United States

In the US, the sale, purchase, possession, and use of anabolic steroids are strictly forbidden by law, as the FDA has classified them as a Schedule III controlled substance. This is the same category which contains drugs like ketamine, certain concentrations of morphine and hydrocodone.

While there are a few legal anabolic steroids available for legal use, they are highly regulated and only made available through a doctor’s prescription for a specified number of conditions such as delayed puberty, testosterone deficiency, low red blood cell count, AIDS-related tissue wasting and breast cancer.

United Kingdom

Similarly, one is not allowed to purchase anabolic steroids without a prescription in the UK, as they’re considered a Class C drug that’s to be used for medicinal purposes only. However, UK law does allow for the possession of anabolic steroids, which gives many the loophole needed to legally ship steroids from other countries through online transactions.

a muscular man posing in the gym

A lot of gym-buffs then use this as an excuse to purchase these steroids online from suppliers in Pakistan, India, China, and Thailand. However, this carries the risk of buying a defective and potentially dangerous product, and as current research shows, about 53% of the steroids purchased by UK residents overseas are fake, which means that these athletes take on an added risk of damaging their health even further when they purchase steroids through online suppliers.


While Canadian law states that the possession of anabolic steroids is legal, it has prohibited their purchase. So, while technically legal, steroids are virtually illegal, and should rather be referred to as a decriminalized substance.

This limits steroid possession to personal use while discouraging the possession of quantities that exceed a certain limit. If the authorities believe that you possess enough anabolic steroids to sell, they could put you in jail for up to 18 months as punishment. You also can’t buy them because you’re not allowed to. The whole thing is quite a pickle really.


Like most other countries, sports associations and medical organizations, the Australian government has placed a strict ban on the use of anabolic steroids, unless it’s for medicinal purposes. According to Australian authorities, all types of steroids are considered illegal to possess, buy or use, except when prescribed by a registered physician or dentist.

a Australian anabolic steroid user flexing his bicep

Procuring and using steroids under any other circumstances is considered strictly illegal and violators are liable to be punished by law, which means facing the charges of unauthorized steroid importation.

Famous actor Sylvester Stallone obviously didn’t get the memo, because in 2007 he was charged with the same offence, and fined $10,000 plus legal costs as a result. Granted, he had a prescription for his steroids but he failed to report that when filling his customs entry form and soon found himself in very hot waters.


Even worse than Canada, the Spanish law on steroids is quite vague, and some of their laws even contradict one another. For starters, the country does not have a classification list to categorize narcotics and psychotropic substances.

As a result, steroids are likely to be grouped together with hard drugs like cocaine. Then there’s law 17/1967, which completely prohibits the possession and use of all drugs except for therapeutic purposes (go figure)!

Additionally, while drug possession and use are not classified as a criminal offence in Spain, Organic Law 1/1992 contradicts this policy by saying that it is a criminal offence to use drugs in public, even when you’re not selling. The penalty for disobeying Organic Law 1/ 1992 is a fine, which can be anything between 300 to 30,000 Euros.

Obviously, these legal ambiguities provide an ideal opportunity for suppliers to sell steroids, even counterfeit ones, without punishment, whereas buyers are left to bear the brunt of a punishment which seems severe enough to fit both parties.