Steroid Holidays for young Aussies
THERE'S something about the seedy Thai beachside town of Pattaya that keeps enticing Michael Dorn back - but it's not the sun, sea, sand or sex for which the resort is famous.
Dorn, 20, from Sydney, is part of a thriving amateur bodybuilding subculture that uses anabolic steroids and growth hormones as a fast-track to the ultimate ''ripped'' body.
While the drugs are heavily restricted in Australia by laws that are among the strictest in the world, Dorn - and hundreds like him - have discovered a novel way around the problem: they travel to Thailand on ''steroid vacations''.
A Sunday Age investigation has found that rather than risk prosecution in Australia, everyday gym users are travelling to Asia and ''stacking'' a dangerous cocktail of steroids that include powerful veterinary drugs and fertility medicine.
While police in Australia warn of a growing trade in performance and image-enhancing drugs, health experts say the products can cause life-threatening heart and liver damage and other illnesses.