"Most of the issues are various side effects, especially for anabolic steroids and testosterone," A-Clinic project coordinator Jukka Koskelo told Finnish national broadcaster Yle, blaming the increase on the fact that talks about exercise doping have become much more commonplace.
Among all Finnish men aged 25-34 years, 2.1 percent have used doping substances, as opposed to around 4 percent in Sweden, where the corresponding figure is considered to be rising, as well. Due to the fact that doping among amateur athletes remains a largely underinvestigated topic, it is difficult to get reliable figures. According to A-Clinic, the average user is a 26-year-old male urban dweller with a full-time job earning over 2,000 euros a month.
General appearance fixation is believed to be one of the reasons behind the rise. Many respondents admitted to doping because of appearance expectations and the desire to reach quick results.
"Women are also dieting in order to get firmer muscles because of other women, while men want bigger muscles because of other men," Finnish bodybuilding expert Taina Kinnunen told Yle.
At present, the growing trend among gym sharks is to order doping kits online, which can include several drugs to be taken simultaneously. According to Dopinglinkki, up to 90 percent of all performance-enhancing products can be fake, with doubtful positive effects and major health hazards.
"But what these drugs contain is a big question. A fancy name, ampoules and package do not necessarily guarantee that the content matches the label," Koskelo said, stressing that ill-manufactured drugs are known to cause gangrene.