Huge increase in steroid use in New Zealand

New figures show an increase in performance and image enhancing drugs being imported to New Zealand.

While the number of parcels intercepted remains steady, the actual number of medicines coming in continues to increase.

For years, sportspeople have risked it all to be the best - only for it all to come crashing down.

Lance Armstrong is the poster boy after the American cycling superstar's epic fall from grace over doping cover-ups on his record seven consecutive Tour de France wins.

And despite warnings, there still seems to be demand from Kiwis for performance and image enhancing drugs.

The quantity of illegally imported substances seized by the New Zealand Customs Service has grown from 129 doses in 2011 to 626 last year.

That's an increase of 385 percent over five years.

The most popular substances are anabolic steroids and anti-oestrogens, and it's no longer just bodybuilders looking to 'get jacked'.

"Once upon a time a testosterone supplement was something for a Russian weightlifter," said Massey University Professor Steve Stannard.

"Now it very well could be for the bloke that goes to the gym to improve his pectoral muscles."

Drug Free Sport NZ is seeing more sportspeople using them at amateur level.

"It's certainly easy to buy them online and of course you've got no idea what you're getting when you're buying something online," said Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel.

"That's part of the public health problem, is that what they get and what they think they're getting are often very different things."

There are also concerns about steroid use in high school sport.

Auckland Rugby's just finished a holiday camp for top First XV players and at the forefront is drug education.

Auckland Rugby High Performance Manager Ben Meyer said it is talked about a lot.

"There's so much available to these young boys and girls online and things like that so we're very much driving education."

But it's not just about performance anymore.

Academics suspect people also take steroids because they want to look good on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook.

"I think it's a changing norm, a changing social expectation partly I think driven by social media," said Prof Stannard.

Since 2009 the Ministry of Health has prosecuted 13 people under the Medicines Act for importing performance and image enhancing drugs.

Drug Free Sport NZ has a simple message for those interested in using supplements - if you dont know what's in it, don't consume it.