It was a massive international drug bust, reported across the local and overseas press on the weekend. A latter-day “French Connection” that saw agents from a number of countries, including Australia, smash a long-standing international drug ring — even infiltrating the very laboratory where the drugs were being manufactured. In Australia, nearly all of Customs’ investigative unit was deployed, and 29 people have been charged.

It was a major victory in the war on … steroids. Correction. Not just steroids, but “performance and image-enhancing drugs.” There’s your neologism for the week — “image-enhancing drugs”.

The War on Drugs™ hasn’t exactly been a resounding success. Consumption rates in western countries are the same. Illicit drugs remain one of the world’s biggest industries and a major source of corruption. Afghanistan still produces record opium crops. Comparatively, even the War on Terror looks good.

Yet here we are opening another front, joining the Americans to chase down the Mr Bigs (pun very much intended) of the steroid business. At least the Yanks had a sense of humour about it – they named their end “Operation Raw Deal”, presumably after the film by one of Hollywood’s most famous steroid users, AKA the Governator himself. That the US is also notoriously lax about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in its professional sports is just one of those little ironies of life. Barry Bonds was not among those arrested.

Our inconsistent and illogical prohibition of some recreational drugs and not others is bad enough. But busting down doors to catch steroid dealers appears to take this to a new level of absurdity. If people want to use “image-enhancing drugs”, who are they harming? The stuff isn’t even addictive. And the buff look a damn sight better than alcoholics. What next – a botox crackdown? Operation Cueball to round up the pushers of baldness cures? Today Tonight look out.

Yes, there are serious consequences from the long-term use of performance-enhancing drugs – sometimes fatal consequences. The more misanthropic would see this as Darwinism in action, given that the most likely users, sportsmen and women, don’t contribute awfully much to humankind beyond running and jumping (and weightlifters don’t even do that). But the question remains, who are the users harming other than themselves?

Putting aside the merits of prohibition, why are such significant government resources being devoted to this? Does Australian Customs have nothing better to do? At the very least, aren’t there plenty of far more harmful drugs still pouring across our borders? Maybe busting bodybuilders is a lot easier than going after narcotics gangs. And “drug cheats” make for a much better headline than run-of-the-mill drug dealers.

As The New York Times noted, the latest raids will make virtually no difference to the international trade in sports drugs. Like the rest of the War on Drugs, the only point seems to be keeping bureaucrats in jobs and helping politicians look macho.

Of course, there’s an easier, cheaper way for them to look macho – they can take some steroids.