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Monday, July 10, 2000
Crack down planned on drug export loophole

 MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Australia's Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone says she's fully committed to closing a loophole that allows Australian-made veterinary steroids to flood onto the illegal international market in performance-enhancing drugs for athletes.

 Vanstone, responding to media reports over the weekend which revealed Australia's involvement in the illicit steroid trade, said she was negotiating to impose a tough control regime.

 The Australian Olympic Committee, the Australian Veterinary Association and the state governments of Victoria and New South Wales had demanded an immediate ban on steroid exports, the Melbourne Age newspaper reported Monday.

 The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that a quarter of the veterinary steroids exported, which were certified and quality assured by the federal government's National Registration Authority, were sent to Mexico, reportedly a major centre of the illicit human steroid trade.

 Exports of human steroids were tightly regulated, but the same chemical for veterinary use required no export permit, the Herald reported.

 Officials who monitor the industry estimated that the bulk of the more than 70,000 vials of steroids exported from Australia each year were diverted into the illicit trade, the paper reported.
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