Here's how easy it is to buy anabolic steroids in the Dominican Republic: Walk into the local pharmacy and ask for them.
That's exactly what happened when I visited the island on a family vacation last week. I did not break the law. Nor did I attempt to bring them back into the United States. Steroids that are illegal in the United States are legal in the Dominican Republic.
With all of the buzz surrounding Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids from 2001-03 when he played for the Rangers, and his remarks that they could be obtained easily over the counter in the Dominican Republic, I thought, "Let's see if it's really that easy to make a purchase."
I walked into the Andreita Farmacia on the corner of a busy intersection on Calle Independencia in the middle of San Pedro de Macoris. I asked the pharmacist if he carried anabolic steroids, namely Primobolan and Sustonan 250.
"Si, señor," he said.
He pointed to a shelf behind him as an overhead fan blew hot air on this steamy, 84-degree day. The druggist told me that Primobolan, also known as "Boli," the steroid A-Rod admitted to using, was sold out. A new shipment would be available by midweek, he said.
"Primobolan is very popular," he said.
I pointed to other items on the shelf - Dianabol, Deca-Durabolin and Sustanon 250.
The box of Sustanon 250, an oil-based, injectable testosterone, was placed on the counter with another box of Deca-Durabolin. My cost was 1,054.30 pesos, or $30. MasterCard and Visa were welcome, and the pharmacy would not have been averse to mailing them to the States, I was told.
The transaction took less than three minutes as the pharmacist provided me with 250 mg of Sustanon, a 2.5-ml syringe, and 50 ml of Deca-Durabolin with a 2.5-ml syringe.
I paid the cashier and went outside to inspect the purchase. Then I quickly discarded the steroids. I bought them only to make a point.
"Sustanon is a blend of testosterone using a variety of synthetics. It's a serious substance," said Gary Wadler, chairman of the prohibited list and methods committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
He said Deca-Durabolin is one of the most potent, long- lasting oil-based steroids out there and very popular in the bodybuilding world. And all sitting on a pharmacy counter in a place known as "The City of Shortstops."