Despite SARMs’ growing popularity as muscle-building supplements, and in spite of the fact they are deemed a safer alternative to anabolic steroids and prohormones, there is often confusion over their legal status in the UK – and indeed, through much of the world.
As things stand, the only major country to have moved for an outright ban is China. So, are SARMs legal in the UK? This is not a question with a clear-cut answer. Instead, it all depends on their intended use after purchase. Let’s see why.
Are SARMs illegal?
The UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) classifies selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) as ‘novel food’ – a term which indicates “any food that was not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the United Kingdom (UK) or the European Union (EU) before 15 May 1997”.
Before they can be placed on Great Britain’s market for consumption, any novel foods need to be authorised. As things stand, SARM’s have not received the authorisation – meaning they are illegal to sell for human consumption. In its 2020 Food Crime Strategic Assessment, FSA acknowledged the growing use of SARMs among other unauthorised food supplements and products on the market.
FSA wrote, “Such products can present challenges to regulators due to the complexity of the legal status of, and enforcement framework around, the ingredients (within or between novel foods legislation, pharmaceutical regulation, and rules around permitted health claims).
“It can be hard to demonstrate the presence of deception, but it is likely that many of these products are misrepresented in terms of the benefits of taking them, or the safety of doing so.”
How can SARMs be purchased legally?
Whilst the FSA classifies SARMs as ‘novel food’ and has thus far not authorised them to be sold for human consumption, they are not marked as ‘scheduled drugs’ either – meaning that their sale is not banned outright. SARM law means they can be purchased legally in the UK as research chemicals. They can be sold without breaking the law as long as they are not marked for human consumption, but rather for research and laboratory purposes.
The purchase and possession of SARMs is not in itself illegal. SARMs are banned substances in many agonistic activities and sports – so if they are taken by someone playing professional sports or competing in the Olympics, there may be consequences if they are detected. But outside these cases, in the grey area in which SARMs are left due to the lack of authorisation, the authorities will not track the purchases, and much less attempt to find out what use buyers are making of their legally acquired SARMs. There has never been a case of a buyer being charged for purchasing or possessing SARMs.
The lack of authorisation does nothing to keep people from buying SARMs online – and exposes buyers to the very real risk of buying from unethical manufacturers, who sell low quality SARMs containing impurities in the form of potentially harmful chemicals. The great advantage of SARMs is their safety and few side effects compared to anabolic steroids and prohormones; the use of subpar quality SARMs may negate that advantage, putting the health of users at risk.
It is essential to source SARMs correctly, from ethical manufacturers and sellers such as Sarms UK.
Could the law change?
As more research is carried out into the effects of SARMs on the human body, and their safety compared to steroids, the legal status of SARMs may change – hopefully towards authorisation, which would go a long way to make the sale and purchase of SARMs safer and less of a minefield.