SYKESVILLE — Police officials say it is likely that county high school and college athletes are abusing steroids in the wake of the weekend arrest of a Lincoln Lane man charged with distributing the drugs.
Members ofthe Carroll County Narcotics Task Force arrested 27-year-old Larry Edward Johnston Jr. at his home Saturday and charged him with three counts of possession with intent to distribute steroids, three counts of possession of steroids and possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show.
Johnston, who works at the General Nutrition Center at Owings Mills Town Center, declined to comment.
Johnston's arrest came after a four-month investigation into the distribution of chemicals that resemble the male hormone testosterone, said Westminster City Police Sgt. Andrew McKendrick, a task force member.
He said the investigation began after the task force received an anonymous tip.
McKendrick said it is likely that the steroids seized were "making their way" to county high school and college athletes.
County athletic directors contacted yesterday said they were not aware of steroid use amongathletes and were concerned about the allegation.
Task force members and Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III declined to comment further on who may be purchasing the steroids. They said the investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.
Task force members seized 168 10-milliliter bottles of testosterone, 250 Oxandrolone pills and 36 1-milliliter bottles of Nandrolone Decanoate from Johnston's bedroom and basement gym, records show.
Syringes and "hand-written sheets with anabolic steroid names and a price in dollars next to the name," also were seized.
McKendrick said the testosterone had a street value of about $30 a bottle, the Oxandrolone about $200 per bottle and the Nandrolone Decanoate about $250 per bottle.
Anabolic steroids are chemicals related to the hormones produced in the testicles, said Dr. Bill Howard, director of Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore. Athletes use them to make themselves stronger, faster and bigger.
Howard, who advises police investigators across the state on the illegal use of steroids, said most people who use the drugs begin when they are young.
"As long as people want to play in the NFL, they are going to use steroids," Howard said. "If they are going to play in the National Football League they have to be good in college, and if they are going to play in college, they have to be good in high school."
Howard said the prolonged use of steroids can increase cholesterol, heart disease and liver and kidney problems. The drugs also can cause premature hair loss, aggressive behavior and impotence, he said.
Howard said steroid abuse is not easy to detect because most people who use the drugs appear to behard-working, healthy members of the community.
"Its not like people on crack or cocaine who look really sick and can't hold a job," said Howard. "People on steroids work two jobs, have families, go to church and look fine."
Howard says he frequently sees patients in his practice who use steroids to improve their athletic performance.
"Out of 20 people who use steroids to make it to the major leagues,only one will make it," Howard said. "It's not worth the risk."