When the Dominican winter League is in session, business booms at Farmacia Livia in Santo Domingo. The pharmacy, located about 100 yards from the capital's main stadium, Estadio Quisqueya, is a regular stop for baseball players shopping for steroids. Wally Montilla, a 32-year-old pharmacy student who works at Livia, estimates the store sold twice as many steroids during Winter League ball as it did the rest of the year.
Buying steroids in many parts of Latin America is no different from buying aspirin in the U.S. Steroids are prominently displayed and sold over the counter, affording Latin players home for the off-season and Americans playing winter ball easy access to steroids for weeks and months. During the regular season, ballplayers are known to make day trips into Mexico for restocking purposes, according to a minor league outfielder who asked not to be named. "I've heard of a few guys getting together on an off day and going to Mexico for steroids," the outfielder says. "Or someone might be making a run and other guys might place an order."
SI reporters traveled to Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macon's in the Dominican Republic, and Tijuana, Mexico, where at every stop they easily purchased steroids. They bought Anabolex, Deca-Durabolin, Testoprim-D, Testoviron Depot and Winstrol-V, which is labeled as an ANABOLIC STEROID FOR USE IN DOGS, CATS AND HORSES and warns that it is "not to be administered to horses that are to be slaughtered for use in food."
No fewer than 50 pharmacies are clustered in a six-block radius in Tijuana, 18 miles south of San Diego. At one of them a clerk named Emmanuel sold SI packages of Deca and Testoprim-D, which he said was the most popular testosterone product among weightlifters, bodybuilders, college students, baseball players and other athletes who frequent the store.
Transporting steroids into the U.S. is illegal. Emmanuel recommended to an SI reporter that he throw away the packaging and syringes and conceal the vials on his person while driving back across the border into the U.S.
Stopping ballplayers or steroid suppliers with vials concealed inside their pants is not a high priority for U.S. Customs inspectors on alert for terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Recreational drugs, including cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana, also rank as a higher priority than steroids. Still, customs agents in 2000, the last year for which statistics are available, did make 8,724 seizures involving steroids with a street value of $38 million. That represented a 46% increase in seizures from the previous year.