DCSIMG

Illegal steroids:Shamed Olympian was brains behind smuggling operation

'YOU had it all," said the judge to the shamed Olympian who went from the podium to the dock in less than a decade.

"You have brains, you're bilingual. In addition, you have great health and a fantastic, God-given athletic ability. Then enters greed and the whole thing seems to go down the toilet bowl."

Track and field star David Jenkins, who won silver at the 1972 Munich Olympics and Commonwealth Gold in 1978, did indeed seem to have it all.

By 1986, the former Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University student was 33 years old and living in San Diego, California, running a successful vitamin business and reaping the spoils of his former athletics career.

However, apparently unsatisfied with a life basking in the sun, his greed led him to Mexico and a 47-year-old laboratory owner named Juan Javier Macklis, who he approached with the idea of manufacturing steroids in Tijuana and smuggling them into the United States.

In a less than a year, the operation had grown to become the biggest supplier of counterfeit steroids in the country, responsible for 70 per cent of the illegal trade with distribution points stretching from Los Angeles to Miami and a reported cash flow of anything up to $300 million – more than 400m by today's prices.

It wasn't long before the operation caught the eye of US Customs. Border guards began catching illegal immigrants with packages containing drugs pertaining to be steroids and often marked with legitimate logos. Upon analysis, some packages were found to contain a different drug and occasionally drugs only licensed for animals.

US Customs and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set up a massive sting operation, led by Assistant US Attorney Phil Halpern. The first arrests were made when men attempted to sell $250,000 worth of steroids to customs agents. Phone taps also recorded couriers discussing their activities, while a search inside the home of a Miami University football coach uncovered steroids, syringes, cash and a notebook of customers hidden inside the disgraced coach's television.

Halpern also uncovered evidence of beatings, torture and extortion carried out by other members of the conspiracy.

Halpern compiled a 110-count federal indictment, singling out Jenkins as the man behind the operation and charging a further 34 people and two Mexican corporations for their roles in the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit anabolic steroids.

On April 28, 1987, Jenkins was arrested and imprisoned in a San Diego federal jail.

A not guilty plea was entered, however this was quickly undermined when several of the other men involved in the operation confessed, so Jenkins agreed to a plea bargain.

His 36-count indictment was reduced to just four charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States; holding counterfeit steroids for sale; introducing misbranded steroids into interstate commerce and receiving anabolic steroids subject to seizure.

Jenkins accepted the judge's ruling and apologised for his "misguided (and] foolish" actions. He was later sentenced to seven years behind bars.

In an interview conducted shortly after his conviction, he explained how the conspiracy got out of hand.

"Once you start breaking one rule, you end up breaking a whole lot of them," he said. "You lose the ability to clearly define which rules can and cannot be broken."

Athlete who was finally run to ground

DAVID JENKINS was born on May 25, 1952. He attended Edinburgh Academy and the University of Edinburgh.

At the age of 16 he was taken under the wing of Scottish national athletics coach John Anderson, who later made his name as the referee in the original Gladiators television show.

In 1971, aged 19, Jenkins strode to victory in the 400 metres at the European Championships in Helsinki, and was the star of the 4x400m relay team that won silver at the following year's Munich Olympics.

A string of European medals followed, and his career peaked again in 1978 with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. However, Jenkins later admitted that by this time he was taking performance -enhancing drugs.

Jenkins ultimately served only nine months of his seven-year sentence for smuggling.

In 1993 he set up sports supplement company Next Nutrition. He still lives in California, and his products Designer Whey and a nutrition bar continue to sell well.

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page