Schoolboys wanting a hit of the latest bulk-building product or pill need not travel far. At The Scots College, in Sydney’s east, protein powders are supplied by teachers to adolescent athletes in the school gym. A sponsor of the school’s rugby sevens tournament is Ultimate Sports Nutrition, whose products include ”hardcore” anabolics, meal replacements and creatine ”to deliver explosive gains in muscle size and strength”.

In Victoria, it is a short trip from several prestigious schools to Maximum Muscle, in St Kilda. On the shop’s shelves are growth hormone or testosterone boosters, along with ”pump up pills”. Owner Daniel Shprung says his business among teenage boys is growing. ”I get 15, 16, 17-year-olds, usually coming in with a parent. Most of them want to bulk up because they’re very skinny and they want to fill the gap,” he says.

“People will admit murder, rape, armed robbery before they admit they use steroids.”

He puts some young customers on a muscle-gaining program that includes protein shakes of 1000 calories at a time. ”I usually tell them to take it straight after training and also take it to school and have it at morning recess,” he says. ”I have got my daughter, she is seven, and every morning I make a protein shake and I give her a little bit and she loves it.”

Other customers, typically older clientele, sometimes ask about steroids – which Shprung, a body-builder, says he has no truck with. But it’s a murky world, he says. ”People will admit murder, rape, armed robbery before they admit they use steroids.”

A light was shone on such secrecy this month, with the expulsion of two students from an elite Brisbane boys’ school after staff found illegal steroids. Nudgee College called the police, who charged a 17-year-old with possessing and supplying a dangerous drug. Another boy, 16, will be dealt with under Queensland’s Youth Justice Act.

The arrests came as students from the college toured Japan for a world rugby youth tournament. But principal Daryl Hanly insisted it was an ”isolated incident” with no link to the school’s sports program.

”This incident, while serious, highlights the issues associated with body image for young men,” he said.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart urged all schools to be on the alert for such drugs, saying the use of steroids among young people was frightening.

Indeed, the case is far from isolated. Fairfax Media can reveal a senior student at Cranbrook School, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, was kicked off the rowing squad for steroid use in recent years.

Every oversized private school sportsman tends to attract scuttlebutt about the use of performance enhancing drugs. But confirmed cases of steroid use are rare.

A Cranbrook old boy with ties to rowing, who declined to be named, says students are regularly exposed to talk about steroids and supplements to improve sports performance. ”They meet other people in different regattas or social functions, and there are people there that hang around and probably try to promote these drugs,” he says.

”They are at a vulnerable age. They’re not ready to think about these matters properly. They want to make themselves into little Atlases or Hercules.”

That desire to look ”buff”, ”ripped” or ”bulk” – also known as the Adonis Complex – is driving many boys to take performance and image enhancing products.

While the use of steroids remains rare, a 2012 Sydney University study of body image and weight gain by high school boys, found many were taking legal supplements such as protein powders and amino acid pills.

”You do see a trend towards a drive for muscularity and masculinity, particularly for better self image but also for better sports performance,” says body image and health education researcher Jennifer O’Dea.

Her study, not yet published, of 1090 boys from 28 public and private high schools in NSW found more than a quarter of those in years 11 and 12 reported having used sports supplements, vitamins or minerals, to gain weight and muscle.
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via Bigorexia: school sport’s big drug fight.