State of Pro Competitive Bodybuilding
an interview taken from February's '97 issue of IRONMAN magazine. It is about
drug abuse in today's bodybuilding. Comments in blue are
mine. I've found this piece to be very interesting for several reasons.
Please read on. I've included everything.
The State of Competitive
The Most Shocking Bodybuilding Interview Ever (IRONMAN, February
by Steve Holman
Comments in blue are mine.
an extremely controversial interview. To be honest, we almost decided not to
print it; however, because IRONMAN has always been an open forum, going to great
lengths to tell the whole truth, we felt it was our responsibility to the sport
and to you, the reader, to allow this athlete to speak his mind.
It took a lot of courage for this man to stand up and tell
it like it is, and we are keeping him anonymous to protect his status as a professional
bodybuilder. We're inserting [blanks] in place of names to help protect his
identity-no process of elimination to narrow down the field-and also in place
of drug names, so drug-using bodybuilders don't get any inadvertent "help" with
their drug programs.
Keep in mind that we paid this man nothing because we feel
money can only corrupt the information. When people are paid a high sum, they
feel as if they have to give the interviewer his or her money's worth, and that
can result in exaggeration.
As you read this, remember that this athlete came to us because,
like us, he loves bodybuilding and wants to see it prosper, not die a painful
Fasten your seatbelts. This dose of reality is going to open
your eyes like nothing ever printed in this or any other bodybuilding magazine.
IM: You want to get some things
off your chest. You have the bodybuilding world's ear. What is it you want to
BB: Well, you know, most of the things nobody wants to talk about. I
want to let everybody know how it really is.
IM: How it is with the drugs?
BB: Damn right!
IM: You're having to take too
BB: Way too many, man.
IM: What kind of drug bill are
we talking about?
BB: Well, growth hormone alone costs you $30,000 a year.
That is absolutely true, HGH costs a lot of money.
IM: Good lord!
BB: And steroids, that's not a really big problem. I use a lot, but you
can get it cheap. Mostly you gotta pay people to tell you how to use them. The
growth hormone, IGF-IÉ.
IM: And just the thought of putting
all that in your body all at one time-that's gotta take its toll on you mentally
BB: Well, I don't mind a little bit, because I do like big arms, big
back, big chest and legs and everything. But when it comes to the point where
I'm as big as I want to get-
IM: They tell you that you have
to get bigger, right?
BB: Yeah, I don't have a choice. I'm gonna be bigger. Next year you're
going to see me 24 pounds heavier.You know it's the whole mind-set that you
gotta get bigger and sacrifice your shape. I may not like the way my back looks.
I mean, I've got improvements to make, obviously. But those things come with
time. Maturing into a physique is nice, but they want a monster.
IM: Do you think it can ever stop?
I mean, if people keep getting bigger, what's going to happen to the sport?
BB: Well, the sport is already-
IM: Out of control?
BB: Yeah. It's an underground sport. It's [a cult that] likes to see
the freaky mass monsters....They really don't care. They just say, Whatever
it takes to do that, that's what we want to see. But I think a lot of people
want to see something that's somewhat attainable.
IM: Do you think the size of the
competitors has caused the people to be a little blast about it all? Like: Well,
they're just going to have to do what it takes. We don't care; if they die,
they die. We want to see 'em bigger, and we want to see 'em better.
BB: That's right. They want us to do it, and the judges want to see something
bigger. In order for us to make a living and live our dreams, we gotta do whatever
it takes, you know? You got guys like [blank, a bodybuilding columnist for another
magazine] saying, "Well, nobody's making you." I guess nobody is, but a lot
of us [have] this dream of being the best of the built.
Best of Roid built.
IM: Absolutely. And it's a performance
thing too. It's gratifying to be on stage. What do you think is a solution here?
Do you think there is one at this point?
BB: Well, it's hard to say. Once you've seen extreme physique development,
how are you going to train the eye of the audience to accept something less?
You can practically see [some of these guys'] lungs when they do rear lat spreads.
You just gotta accept something less. By the way, before I go on, let me tell
you right now, there's a lot of things in your hands.
IM: I understand. Your identity
is completely confidential, I promise you that. We'll just say you're a top
pro. That's all.
BB: Right. Okay. Ask anything.
IM: Do you think part of the solution
is for the judges to start rewarding a more aesthetic physique?
BB: That would be the only way the sport would go into a positive direction.
Like Bob Paris.
IM: Right, if Bob Paris came back.
I think the problem is you have to have an eye for that type of physique, and
the general public and most bodybuilding fans don't have it, so they look at
size as the top criterion for victory.
BB: I think there's a certain presence, an aura to a really complete
physique like Lee Labrada's, rather than someone who's just grotesque.
IM: Getting back to the whole
drug thing, do you have to stay on the drugs year-round?
BB: Yes. I haven't gone off at all for years.
IM: You have to inject, what,
three to four times a week?
BB: Every day.
IM: Every day you have to inject
something into your body?
BB: Yeah. Every day. Let me go over my stack.[He rattles off a list of
injectibles and orals that's so long, my jaw hits the desk.]
IM: This is just off-season?
BB: Yeah. And of course I like to use [blank] that blocks estrogen and
also increases testosterone levels. Also [blank] four times a day in the off-season
to allow me to eat more calories. I also take half a tablet of [blank], which
works better synergistically with growth hormone. Six weeks or so out I start
taking some [blank] to stop some of the gyno. I did have to have it removed
a few years back, but it kind of flares up now and then.And I use [blank] to
take some of the water out. And [every so often] I switch from the heavy androgens
to the lighter anabolics, like [blank and blank], 300 milligrams every other
day. Let's see, [blank], 200 milligrams a day. That helps you harden up your
physique, increase your vascularity. I take some [blank], which helps me harden,
and I keep my insulin the same and my growth hormone the same.
IM: Whew! Quite a laundry list!
BB: Well, you know there's also many other things, like [blank], which
keeps my gonadal system up and [blank] to boost my testosterone to make sure
I don't atrophy down there. Also, anti-estrogens and other compound factors
to combat the many side effects that I get.
IM: Have you ever noticed any
serious health problems that you think are related to this?
BB: I piss a lot of blood come contest time.
IM: But in the off-season you
feel pretty decent, even though you're taking all that stuff?
BB: Well, recently I started getting blood tests every two months.
IM: How about cholesterol count,
blood pressure and so forth? All that's pretty normal?
BB: No, everything is high. My blood pressure gets really high, and that
must be watched, especially when I take stimulants.
IM: It sounds as if you're on
pins and needles a lot of the time.
BB: If you gotta do it, you got no choice. You want to make a living
in this sport, that's what you gotta do.
IM: Race cars keep going faster
and faster and there are more crashes, but the drivers keep doing it, right?
What do you think your total drug bill is for the year?
BB: About $60,000, but it's going to be higher next year. Just this last
year I had to add [blank]. Right now it's the number-one bodybuilding "supplement"
in the competition ring. All these guys you see getting bigger, it's that. No
question. Two years ago...I don't want to take nothing from [blank], really
nice guy, nice family man, but physiquewise he was flat as a pancake. Now he's
bigger, 20 to 30 pounds heavier. It's all [from this stuff]. [Blank] is heavy
on it. Of course, we all are. I'm scared shitless.
IM: Are you guys pretty frank
with each other about what you're taking?
BB: Only with friends. I mean, I get questions in the gym all the time,
and I tell them I take [a popular protein powder]! Yeah, we talk.
IM: You don't feel you need to
keep secrets and maintain an edge?
BB: There are no secrets. There's one guy out there-I won't mention his
name-he's a top pro who helps out the other pros with their [blank] 'cause we
don't know how to do it, so we go to him. He helps us out.
IM: I know the old-timers say
there's no camaraderie in the sport anymore.
BB: Oh, there's some. But the only thing we talk about is-
IM: Drugs and training.
BB: We don't talk about training, because most of the guys-
IM: All train alike?
BB: Well, yeah. We don't train that hard. [Most of the guys] are half
asleep when they [work out].
Real champions like Haney, Yates,
Swarzeneger, Oliva and all the others, trained brutally hard!
IM: So it's mostly just the drugs.
The top guys really don't have an inkling how to train without them. Do you
think most of the top 10 guys are taking pretty much the same thing then?
BB: Yeah, they're all jabbing themselves just as much, but I think [winning]
has to do with your estrogen levels and your normal testosterone levels, your
receptor abilities and things like that. You know, it's a genetic thing. Some
people are more susceptible to steroids. Five milligrams might hit me differently
than it might hit you.
IM: I asked you this earlier,
and I know you said you think that it's just all part of the game, but aren't
you afraid that this will catch up with you later in life?
BB: I am. I don't think I'll be able to have children. My doctor told
me my sperm count is way too low. And my thyroid [is blown out].
That is most unfortunate.
IM: Do you feel that the sport
indirectly promotes the whole drug thing?
BB: Yeah, but then you have people saying that nobody makes us. But this
is our childhood dream. This is something we want to do, and for the most part
we don't have other jobs.
IM: Do you think this drug test
they had at the Olympia was a step in the right direction?
BB: It was a step in the right direction for the sport and probably a
step in the wrong direction for people's careers because I know four people
who [should have] tested positive. But we can beat the drug tests. Next year
if they want to get diuretics, that's fine. We'll use plasmics. It's fairly
simple. There's always exotic steroids."Let's change some molecule on the 17th
position, and it can't be detected." [Blank] still can't be detected.
I Disagree, drug test is a must. When real drug testing
is done ( not the thing they do right now in the Olympia ), things will come
upside down. Remember Olympic weightlifting. After the new drug tests, people
literally lifted half the weight they used to.
IM: This is the most eye-opening
interview I've ever had. I appreciate your opening up to me.
BB: You're welcome. It could be because I'm very low on carbohydrates.
IM: And you're pissed off.
BB: Yeah, you know the diuretic scene is very difficult. I'm back there
with my I.V. bag and heart monitor. It's just the situation. You take a person
and put him into a lab in a freak science experiment. Then you throw him on
stage, and you take him off to pump blood back into him. Is that a sport?The
training is pretty much beaten to death. In fact, your magazine for the natural
athletes is what I recommend. Professional bodybuilding [is about] drugs. Of
course, there's abuse in every professional sport-boxing, basketball, baseball,
I sincerely agree.
IM: How long do you think you
can keep at it? I mean at this pace?
BB: Well I've been on forÉoh God. I'll tell you right now, if
anybody's going to die next, it's going to be [blank]. He's too old to be messing
with [junk] like that. His pancreas I don't think is too good.There's a look
that you get. I can see it. [Blank, a top pro] is very ill. I understand what
he wants to do for the sport, and he can do some great things, but he's dying
and every contest he loses is a blow to him. He's killing himself literally
because he wants to make this sport better. Eventually he's either going to
win the contest or he's going to die.
IM: He's really playing Russian
BB: Yeah, he was using [blank] before any of us. I prefer his look back
[a few years]. He wasn't big but aesthetic-a pleasing physique. Something a
kid would look at and say, Hey, I would like to look like that. Now he should
be concentrating more on certain bodyparts, but instead his body is getting
bigger, his stomach, his head, everything.
IM: It's a scary look. Yes, the
body's getting bigger, but all the internal organs are getting large, bloated.
BB: They should have a contest for the biggest growth-hormone gut.
IM: Got anything else you want
to get off your chest?
BB: Yeah, you know I have a hard time thinking because of all the things
I'm on now. But they don't talk about how much drug [abuse] there is. And it's
not just the steroids. We've got to use speed and stuff like that. We have to
use a lot of diuretics, things that aren't too healthy, and they don't feel
good. Lots of guys are using cocaine-not just because they like it, but it helps
you get cut up, it helps you not eat.With drugs there's use and abuse. But at
our level I feel we're getting exploited, you know? They pump us full of drugs...or
we pump ourselves full of drugs to make ourselves look like freaks, and we get
on stage and that's our job. But we don't get paid hardly anything. The guy
who uses our pictures, the supplement companies, make all the money, and they
don't give us nothing. If it wasn't for our picture, they wouldn't have nothing
IM: Yeah, and you gotta keep risking
your life to try to make a few bucks winning a show.
BB: I'll tell you what: [Some] of the guys, like [blank], are gay prostitutes.
IM: Think so?
BB: I know so. That's how they can afford all those drugs. That's definite.
Of course [certain people in] the gay community are going to walk up and say,
Hey, we'll give you so much to have sex. That's just like a straight guy walking
up to Cindy Crawford and saying it. But for us it's a way to make a good $10,000
a month. It helps with our drug bill and sometimes they just give us drugs for
IM: When you think about it, you
guys can't make much money.
BB: There's not much money in the contracts. Especially with the drugs,
the living, the food. You have to sacrifice your-
BB: Yeah, your integrity, your pride. It's all a sacrifice. The drugs,
the prostitution. These guys don't want to do that. They have to look in the
mirror. They know they're sacrificing what makes them a man.And all this crap
you see about carb loading and sodium. Bunch of shit.
IM: So you don't think they actually
do sodium loading? It's all just drugs?
BB: Precontest every once in a while you catch a guy in McDonald's or
eating pizza. You can do that kind of thing-of course, in moderation.
IM: But you're a pretty heavy
BB: I don't use supplements at all! No vitamins, nothing.
IM: You don't think that vitamins
and minerals would help protect you somewhat from all the drugs?
BB: Yeah, but-
IM: You've got put your money
where it's going to be the most effective, right? On drugs.
BB: Right. I'd like to see a $1 million prize [for a bodybuilding contest].
That's something else that would help the sport. If there's a decent amount
of money in there, it would be something people would watch. Unfortunately,
I think people want to see the freaks at this point. Really big mothers up there.
It's like you said, you really can't go backwards. I guess you have to let [it]
self-destruct and see what happens.
IM: I don't want to see any of
you guys die.
BB: We will. I guarantee you. You're going to see lots of guys dying
in the next few years.
IM: I hope the drug test is a
step in the right direction, and maybe they'll start judging for more aesthetic
physiques. If they did backtrack to more of the Bob Paris look, I think it would
BB: Is that ever going to happen?
IM: How much longer do you think
you're going to go on with it?
BB: Till I reach my goal. Or it beats me.
The second will happen, most likely.
IM: Have you ever experienced
any kind of depression or rage?
BB: Oh, yeah. Beaten many peopleÉgot out of hand. I feel bad about
IM: Having all that coursing through
your system has to do something to you mentally.
BB: Well, besides that, you feel a lump here, and you feel scared, and
you don't know what's going on.
IM: Do you get checked by a doctor
BB: I get the blood tests, and he reads it. It's foreign to me. I just
ask how much longer do I have to live, what am I doing wrong?
IM: But he doesn't do any MRIs
on you? It's just basically a blood test?
BB: No. He checks my thyroid, sperm count. Of course, I'm never going
to be able to have children.
IM: Perhaps some of this will
reverse itself once you-
BB: No, I have irreversible damage.
IM: That's really sad.
BB: I think it happened last year. When I upped everything, I shut my
thyroid down. And if I go off the [blank], I'm going to get fat. I'm going to
stay on the stuff permanently. If I go off, I'm going to rebound. None of these
guys go off. It's just nonstop. These guys do what it takes.Don't you see that
they're exploiting us? They're selling us. They're pumping us up, putting us
on stage, throwing us off, and they're collecting the money. And we're back
there rolling around in death.In the process they will make money. Sell ourselves.
Sell our souls, and we don't get much. And even if you take the drugs, it's
no guarantee you're going to win. You have to have something going on there.
But [the people who run this sport] say, Keep it going, keep it going. And watch
their wallets getting bigger. They don't care.
It is a big business today.
IM: But you did say looking like
that helps you with women?
BB: That makes it a little worthwhile, but I never had any problem with
the bitches. I got plenty before. Now I'm bigger, so I get a lot more. But you
also get the bad-that includes harassment from the homos.I want to say for the
guys who want to take their physiques to a [higher level], weight training,
eating right and exercising will help you achieve your goals. What's big to
you may be small compared to a pro, but like I said, Lee Labrada will look huge
to a lot of guys. So you can attain your goals, get bigger, get better with
the women, look good. You may not win Mr. Olympia, but you can still have something
to be proud of [without the drugs].[Competitive bodybuilding, for the most part]
is all chemistry. It's chemical warfare. Andreas Munzer had something we never
had. All those striations and [blank] drugs, but look what it did to him. He
died by the sword. And [blank] pocketed everything Andreas ever did.We have
to deal with the rat race and the counterfeit steroids. All these guys saying,
Yeah, I fell down and broke my arm. That's not true. That's the dealer breaking
their arms because they didn't pay for their shipment of growth hormone.
IM: You say you go to Mexico for
a lot of this stuff?
BB: Yeah, I go to Mexico. The European tour is where most of us get our
drugs.[Switches subjects again] You don't need drug testing. Just a Lee Labrada.
It didn't take a ton [of drugs] to do that. Pick that, and there you go. All
the other guys will have to trim down to look like that.
IM: Go for the aesthetic physique.
That's one of the big steps they have to take. By the way, isn't there a drug
that you can inject directly into the muscle to blow it up?
BB: Oh, yeah, [blank]. Use that for my peak on my biceps. [Blank] uses
it everywhere-80 to 100 shots. Tell you right now it hurts like hell. But it's
hard to predict. It may look good five days before the show, then it lumps out
and you'll get guys with the real lumpy, weird-looking biceps.This whole sport
is about being a bitch. You gotta be a bitch to pay your bills. You gotta be
a bitch to win. That's what it's all about. Total exploitation. I'd like the
athletes to make a little more money. All these magazines talk about how much
Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson make. They don't talk about how much we make,
'cause it's disgraceful. What am I going to do? Sell pictures of myself?
IM: Do a lot of the guys sell
drugs on the side?
BB: Oh, yeah. I've done that myself. Now it's a lot harder.
A drug dealer too.
IM: So what else? Is there's anything
you can think of that you're really pissed off about.
BB: Well, I'm pissed off that we have to use this amount of drugs. I
was happier with my physique last year. [They want us] in the 270-pound range.
IM: Don't you think the magazines
are a little at fault too?
BB: Yeah, they are. They don't print nothing about the drug regimen.
They're selling fake dreams to kids: Take this protein powder, and you're going
to look like that. And it ain't true. Drugs play a predominant role, and most
of the [champions'] training articles lead to overtraining. You know that. And
unless you're on steroids, you're going to end up unhappy and lose your dream.
IM: I guess it's a vicious cycle.
BB: The insulin's very dangerous. I'm feeling it right now. I'm getting
real tired, headaches, weakness. I breathe hard. Not a good drug to take.
IM: What's the danger with the
insulin? It's a hormone, so what's the big problem?
BB: You can die right there. I mean, there isn't one of us who hasn't
been in shock. You really don't know.
IM: Have you ever had to go to
the hospital because of it?
BB: I've been in the hospital a few times, yeah. They had to use half
a bag of glucose intravenously to keep me going. I didn't have any glucose in
my liver, because I did too much insulin. My brain was starved, and I was beginning
to fall asleep, go into a coma. It's the most painful feeling you'll ever feel.
During that time your mind's going nuts.What am I getting out of all this? A
cover picture? That won't pay the bills. Maybe they should start giving back
to the athletes instead of taking. If they're gonna make it where we have to
be bigger, we should get something out of it. Golfers make more money than we
do. I saw how much they make at these rodeos too. They collect $50,000 for riding
some damn bull. They don't have to take drugs to do that.
IM: The danger's there for eight
seconds, then they're out of there. You guys have danger all year long.
BB: Yeah it's dangerous.
IM: To say the least.
This is the end
of the interview. Read on for more comments of mine.
My other comments
you freaked yet ?. I personally have, not that I didn't know what competitive
bodybuilding was all about, but I didn't expect such stupidity.
- That the pros
are taking a lot of drugs is a known fact.
- Their training
is drug assisted and for a drug free bodybuilder leeds to severe overtraining.
This is known too.
- That Federations
steroid drugs are synonymous
is also known.
- Sudden deaths of bodybuilders
due to drug abuse and diuretics are getting a common thing.
- HGH is the least a pro bodybuilder,
not to say a top amateur too, is taking. It is like protein, so common. Today's
bodybuilders can't even pull a vacuum due to this. Their buts are getting
monstrous, their abs are so developed that they seem to be pregnant and their
waistline is so thick !. That is not aesthetic in my opinion.
- If they want to be over with
drug abuse it is not so difficult. For start, demand monster muscle mass and
a tiny waistline. Get big buts out of bodybuilding. Yep these will do. HGH
will be out, for start.
- Great gains can come without
steroids, but they need hard and smart training plus time, although 270 pounds
4-5% BF without drugs seem to me impossible.
- This guy if he does all that
he says, is gonna die.
- Expect a lot
of ex-pro bodybuilders to die in the next years.
- Supplement industry is a big
business today and the supplements companies are greedy bastards.
- Magazines, supplement
companies etc., do sell fake dreams to kids.
They are responsible for the downfall of competitive bodybuilding. Once upon
a time there were champions like Arnold, Sergio, Franco and all the others,
not to mention Steve Reaves and John Grimek, that had really nice physiques.
Today's bodybuilders are just urghhhhh.
- Grimek lived up to 87. How long
do you think today's pros will live ?
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