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DAN DUCHAINE UNCHAINEDTHE "GURU" BREAKS THE SILENCE
By Scott Harrah
Originally published in MuscleZine
Dan Duchaine, in the past decade, has lived the sort of life we read
about in pulpy suspense bestsellers. Yet there's nothing glamorous about
trafficking illegal drugs into the United States, as he'll tell you.
Duchaine first did time in prison for being involved in a Mexican conspiracy
to manufacture anabolic steroids for illicit export to the U.S. He then
spent 36 months behind bars as penance for interstate sales of GHB-an
over-the-counter sleep aid available in health-food stores . Today he's
hailed as the "guru" of sports medicine and nutrition, with
a top position at Next Nutrition and a hot column in Muscle Media 2000,
a magazine that 's gained both scorn and respect for its honesty about natural
supplements and steroids as well as anabolic therapy for AIDS patients. He is the author of Body Opus and The Underground Steroid Handbook I & II.
All this acclaim is not bad for a guy like Duchaine, whose formal training
is in theater, not sports medicine. Duchaine failed miserably as an
amateur bodybuilder in the 1970s, has been married three times, and recently
admitted to MuscleMag that he has a guiltless love of junk food and
is really a "lesbian trapped in a man's body," as he prefers
dealing with women as oppossed to male-bonding with egotistical guys
in gyms. These days, Duchaine doesn't even hang around with bodybuilders,
preferring to keep a low-profile existence in San Diego.
MUSCLEZINE: First off let's talk about your upcoming seminar at Strong
and Shapely Gym. What do you talk about at your seminars? Do you give a
presentation on natural supplements and growth-enhancing drugs, or is it
mostly a Q&A session?
DAN DUCHAINE: It's usually things I've been working on that I think might
be important to the audience. It may be anabolic steroids or some derivative
of that. However, you have to gauge by your audience. Obviously if you have
an audience with a lot of women, then they're not going to be interested
in steroids, so I try to do a mix of information about cutting-edge supplements
that may not even be out yet or may be about to appear. That doesn't mean
I am going to sell them!
MZ: Let's go over some basic background because not all of my readers
may be familiar with you. When did you first become interested in bodybuilding,
and particularly sports medicine?
DD: Well, I have no formal training in either. I have a college degree
in theater arts. For a short time after college, I competed as a bodybuilder
around the New England area. From about 1977 to 1981. After that, I decided
that I had been a miserable bodybuilder, even though I had done all the
right things-going to all the steroid doctors in L.A., finding European
steroids. I used my fair share of steroids, but I still wasn't very good.
Obviously something wasn't working, and the doctors and the pharmacists
couldn't really answer my questions. So I started looking into steroids
on my own. I happen to be a pretty bright person, probably "near genius"
on anything I've pursued. Then the laws changed about 1990 and steroids
weren't as accessible. At that time people became interested in natural
supplements. Up until 1990, there was nothing interesting on the supplement
market. Everybody wants to buy a supplement as if it were a drug, but up
until then, most of them were concentrated foods. I always thought, "Why
eat protein or egg powders when you can just eat an egg? Why have milk protein
powder if you can just eat cottage cheese?"
MZ: Now, for those of my readers who aren't familiar with you, can
you talk about the time you did in prison?
DD [laughs]: Which time, Scott? [Laughs again.] I went to prison twice.
I went to prison in 1987. There was a very odd time in my life, where I
started doing a small retail steroid operation. I had a price list going
out in the mail, and it grew out of having friends who were steroid dealers.
They wanted to get mail-order customers. They mailed out their price list
to people who had bought my Underground Steroid Handbook. For the
longest time I said, "I'm not going to sell steroids because I don't
know where to get them." Then there was a point in my life where I
left my first wife. I left with nothing, because she took everything. I
was a little low on cash, and had an acquaintance who had the ability to
get anabolic steroids. So I said I'd throw my price list in with the others.
I actually probably undercut the others, so my list was much more attractive.
Mostly the customers were people who would buy $100 to $200 at a time. A
couple things happened. I started getting a lot of things from a steroid
dealer in Europe who wanted to move product through America. He extended
me some credit, and I couldn't do all the selling myself so I started wholesaling
things out to other dealers. And Dianabol, the most popular oral steroid
withdrawn from the market, both the generic and the trade name...I was looking
around for a replacement. All of the replacements were very poorly done.
You could pick up a tablet and write your name on a chalkboard. It was that
bad. There were some tablets out of England and India that were very nice.
Guys would show up at the L.A. airport and I'd get a few hundred bottles,
but I'd never know when they'd come back.
Then I had the opportunity to work with someone I'd never met before.
He was working with a small drug company in Tijuana that was making generic
drugs for the Mexican market. They specialized in antibiotics like Tetracycline.
We had a meeting one day and he said, "Could you use some Dianabol?"
I said, "Damn right I can, but I'm not a drug smuggler." He said,
"We can get it over the border for you." I told him that I was
mostly a retail guy and asked him how much I'd have to buy. He said 5,000
bottles. I said, "I don't know. That would last me a year." Then
I talked to a friend of mine, and we agreed that we could move it out of
Mexico, so that's how we started with this manufacturing company, Laboratories
Milano. For a short time, my job was to dream up the kind of steroids they'd
make. I'd find an example on the market and maybe change the packaging and
labels. After a half a year, I noticed the U.S. Federal Government was starting
to follow me around. And I thought, "This is not a hobby anymore."
So I left that whole conspiracy and left the steroid business and moved
to San Francisco. I started working with Champion Nutrition. About the middle
of 1987, the government swept up everyone who was ever involved with that
conspiracy and I happened to be at the beginning of it. I did 10 months
in prison that time.
After I was released on probation, I stupidly in about 1991 met up with
a friend who had a longevity club selling GHB. The GHB supplement used to
be available in health-food stores until the FDA realized it was really
a sleep aid. It could knock you out in 20 minutes. Even though they can't
really ban a drug-only Congress and the DEA can do that-they can enact these
weird Catch-22 labeling laws. So as long as you're selling GHB in your state,
they can't touch you, but if you ship a bottle of a substance they don't
really like across state lines, there is no possible way to fulfill the
labeling requirements. So we just didn't put labels on the GHB bottles,
with no claims whatsoever. We just called them research chemicals. The government
kind of got pissed about that. Unfortunately it was supposed to be a finite
thing. We had very little GHB left. We had a little Clenbuterol at the same
time. It was an already established longevity buyer's club. Unfortunately
for us, one of the customers was an undercover FDA agent so I got my tit
caught in the wringer. It was a stupid thing for me to do. Even though I
can argue that it wasn't worth 36 months because it wasn't really an illegal
drug, hey-I take the responsibility. I did my time. I learned a lot in prison
about how to make money in legitimate avenues. I probably made more money
in prison than the prison officials!
MZ: Is there anything still legally pending against you that you can
DD: No, I'm on supervised release. All my indictments are behind me.
MZ: Do you know of a recent surge of counterfeit steroids in the U.S.?
DD: I don't know. First off, I'm in San Diego, and I don't train at a
bodybuilding gym. I'm pretty reclusive. I have an office here, but I don't
get many phone calls. And I don't see many people around me using steroids
on a day-to-day basis. Also, in San Diego, most of the steroids that are
available are real and out of Mexico. I have no idea what's counterfeit
in other parts of the country, but I can tell you about what's available
in Mexico that's counterfeit because even when Laboratories Milano closed
down, all the packaging and labels were available to some of the minions.
If you go to Tijuana or any of the border pharmacies, you'll see odd steroids
that look like they're from France or Germany but they're total fakes. At
least when we were making steroids, you'd get exactly what it said on the
label. But now you just have bottles with binders and talcum powder.
MZ: What should people look for if they suspect something might be
DD: I'd probably discount anything in bottles of tablets. It's easiest
to put 100 tablets in a bottle. Anything that's injectable that's a 10 cc
vial is also probably counterfeit. However, if you can find single-use ampoules
or tablets on a foil or plastic strip, those are pretty much real all the
time in the U.S. However, in England, a lot of ampoules in foil or plastic
are being counterfeited, but in America that's rare because most steroids
coming into this country are smuggled here from Russia by the Russian Mafia
in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. I can't say anything bad about the stuff the
Russian immigrants in Brooklyn are selling because the quality is outstanding
and the prices are reasonable. You can buy Growth Hormone at $35 for four
I.U.s , and the best you can do otherwise is $80 for four I.U.s out of Mexico.
MZ: So what the Russian Mob in Brooklyn are selling is real?
DD: Yes, but eventually they'll wise up and won't give a shit and will
realize they can make money selling fake stuff. That always happens. So,
while the Russians are offering real stuff, people are going to be able
to buy nice quality things.
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