Two St. Charles Bodybuilders Indicted for Selling Chinese HGH

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Two bodybuilders from St. Charles County have been indicted for conspiracy to purchase and resell Chinese-processed Human Growth Hormone, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri announced yesterday.

Gregory Loomans, 40, and Keith Ashabranner, 32, each face up to five years in prison. Loomans, from St. Charles, pleaded not guilty yesterday in federal court. Ashabranner, from O'Fallon, has not yet been arraigned.

According to the indictment, Loomans set up a post office box under a false name, where he received packages of HGH, Trenbolone Acetate Hexahydrobenzylcarbonate (commonly called "tren") and testosterone, all of which was paid for with money orders that were sent to China by Ashabranner.

The feds charge that between April 2008 and February 2010 Ashabranner sent at least five money orders totaling $13,865 to China in exchange for drug shipments with false custom declarations, which made it appear that the bundles were of low monetary value. One shipment containing 320 vials of HGH, for example, was packaged in a box labeled "mechanical parts" worth $7.50, according to the indictment.

The government claims it intercepted that particular package in March of last year, a day before intercepting a second package filled with 49 vials of tren.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection seize packages on a daily basis, says U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan, explaining that the feds are increasingly on the lookout for counterfeit products pouring in from China. Beyond that, Callahan declined to comment about the investigation.

HGH is a naturally produced hormone secreted by the pituitary gland of human beings that stimulates cell growth and reproduction. It's approved by the Food and Drug Administration for limited use; patients authorized to take the drug include developmentally stunted children and individuals with AIDS.

But many bodybuilders and athletes take the drug illegally to recover from workouts and injury, build muscle mass, lose weight and combat the effects of aging. Athletes linked to the drug include baseball all-stars Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi and Mark McGwire.

The indictment says Loomans and Ashabranner used their profits from the reselling of the HGH to finance their own doping habits.

Apparently, the alleged doping scheme wasn't only a bad legal decision, but a bad health decision as well; the indictment maintains that "Loomans ultimately sought help from a licensed physician after he experienced adverse effects from taking some Chinese drugs."

Loomans's attorney declined to comment, and Ashabranner does not have an attorney listed publicly.

CORRECTION: The original version of this post erroneously stated that Loomans pleaded guilty when in fact he pleaded not guilty.

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