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Steve Pinsent, aged 34, who won a gold medal at the 1982 Brisbane Games, admitted at a hearing last month to supplying prescribed steroid drugs “to persons unknown” between 1986 and 1988.
The judge said Pinsent, who was also ordered to pay Pounds 500 costs, had supplied potentially dangerous drugs. Possible consequences of taking steroids include infertility, jaundice, liver cancer, arterial disease, and asthma. Taken in excess steroids could produce changes in behavior and outbursts of aggression.
At a hearing on October 19, the Crown offered no evidence on a second charge of supplying a medical product without a license and the judge directed that a not guilty verdict be recorded.
The court had been told that Pinsent had bought Pounds 2,600 worth of drugs, including eight types of steroid, in late 1986 and early 1987 from a dealer who had imported them from France.
He sold Pounds 400 worth to two bodybuilding friends at the gym he ran in Slough, Berkshire. The remainder he exchanged for weight-lifting equipment with Russian counterparts at a competition in France.
Mr. Charles Gratwicke, for the prosecution at the earlier hearing, said Pinsent’s downfall had begun when police raided the east London home of another athlete, Richard Crawley.
The found a book which gave names, addresses and details of drug transactions, including payments. Pinsent was on the list.
Mr. Jonathan Laidlaw, for Pinsent, said Pinsent, of Pinner, Middlesex, had only ever passed on drugs to two close friends “both weightlifters who had used them in the past”.
He said since 1987 Pinsent had not been involved in steroids.
However the judge said yesterday: “The public is entitled to expect that a man who sets himself up to run a gym will not engage in illegal drug trafficking.”
After the case, Mr. Brian King, a former head of the New Scotland Yard Serious Crime Squad, who led the investigation for the Department of Health, said: “I hope this will be a deterrent to others who choose to use this method of enhancing their sporting prowess.”
Pinsent had built a reputation for a single-minded dedication that marked him out, even in a sport that demands obsessive concentration.
Mr. Mike Pearman, the assistant coach to Britain’s Senior Olympic squad, said: “He once told me he was more interested in breaking records than holding titles.”
Yet Pinsent has also been one of Britain’s leading medal winners in the last 10 years: as a middleweight he was third in the 1978 Commonwealth Games and first in the 1982 games.
Pinsent came from a close-knit family. His parents always gave Steve and his brother Peter, who also competed in the 1980 and 1984 Games, considerable support. He is remembered by contemporaries in the Olympic team as being obsessive about the sport, although people connected with the team in the early 1980s insist that Pinsent was not taking drugs at the time.
Mr. Pearman, who also competed in three Olympics, said: “Pinsent never talked about drugs to me. He trained at my gym in Balham. What limited conversations I did have with Steve consisted of just the sort of talk you would expect between a coach and lifter.”
After his retirement, Pinsent remained in the sport. In 1985, he opened the Olympian Health Club in Stoke Poges with two partners, Mr. John Gamble, who sold health equipment, and Mr. Paul Dickenson, a hammer thrower.
The gymnasium quickly acquired a reputation as a center for serious weight training and lifting. However, it closed in 1987.
In March 1988, Pinsent and Mr. Gamble moved to Slough to develop the Thames Valley College Gymnasium.
Last year, Jeff Gutteridge, a pole vaulter, from Slough, became the first Briton to be found positive for anabolic steroids in unannounced out-of-competition testing.
Mr. Dickenson was astonished at both Gutteridge and Pinsent’s involvement in drugs. Asked if he knew about the charges against Pinsent, he replied: “No, they come as a complete surprise to me.”
Mr. Dickenson, who combines working in a management relocation property company with being the track-side athletics reporter for BBC television, is well aware of how widespread drug-taking is in the sport.
In 1985, when chairman of the IAC International Athletics Committee, he said: “Sixty percent of the full range of international athletics events were likely to include some competitors who had taken drugs.”