It is quite a while since I said anything about anabolic steroids in the USA and bodybuilding in the Olympics. So what has been happening in recent times?

American Anabolics
As many or you will remember, in the USA, Anabolic Steroids and related drugs were brought under controls within the Anabolic Steroids Control Act 1990. This made it an offence for anyone to possess these drugs for any reason whatsoever without a prescription and the reasons for allowing the prescribing by doctors of these drugs are still very strictly limited. There are, very probably, many men dead who would still be alive now if doctors had been completely free to prescribe steroids for treatment of Aids and other wasting diseases. The American government is virtually acknowledging this by introducing changes which will allow a limited selection of steroids to be prescribed in such cases. Nowadays, it is even an offence in the USA to encourage anyone to use anabolics. At the time of the legislation it was estimated that the U.S. black market for these drugs was about $300,000,000 per year. It has been estimated by several groups that the market now has increased to well over $400,000,000 in spite of many people being imprisoned or fined and the federal authorities spending vast amounts of tax-payers money on enforcement. At the same time the amount of fake drugs on the black market has increased and the numbers of people requiring hospital treatment for infections caused by unsterile products has increased ten-fold (in some states).

Many top Bodybuilders such as Luis Freitas, Craig Titus, Phil Hemon, John Defendis, Stan McCray, Victor Terra and others have been found guilty of steroid offences, have been imprisoned or have been forced into doing deals with the federal authorities. Recently Craig Titus was released and has stated that he plans to get back on stage in 2000. Good luck to him. But as you can appreciate, the Act has been a complete success!!

Building on this success, it is reported that the authorities are now pursuing users and suppliers or steroids “with renewed vigour". According to one report on the Internet, one guy was prosecuted for "supplying" a single vial of testosterone to a former training partner, turned police informer. Everyone in bodybuilding needs friends like this. Again politicians and bureaucrats are talking of “the devastating health hazards" of "these deadly drugs" without knowing the first thing about the whole subject. The whole thing may, of course, be a publicity stunt to create a squeaky clean image for the USA at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Health Issues
Rick Collins is a New York based lawyer who has become a specialist in defending athletes and bodybuilders who have been indicted for steroid offences and he has as part of his preparation work carried out a very detailed investigation of the records of alleged health hazards associated with steroids and, unsurprisingly, has concluded that “the authorities have been less than truthful". At the same time he quotes another source who says, "athletes and bodybuilders have a very sophisticated pharmacological knowledge which surpasses that of the vast majority of physicians." It is suggested that some time ago some reports were published which were based on deliberately flawed research; ie the establishment deliberately set up research studies which were known to be un-sound as a means of providing supporting evidence for an anti-steroid stance. He (and others in the USA) has come to the conclusion that the authorities will not fund proper medical research into steroid use using typical athlete and bodybuilder dosages, nor will they investigate the health records of bodybuilders of the 50's, '60's and 70's because they are afraid that if they do they may get the wrong results and this would undermine the federal policy of criminalisation of users. Yes, that sounds about right for political hypocrisy. Never allow yourself to be thrown off track by a knowledge of the facts!!

Reading Mr Collins' web site, it seems that investigations of world-wide records on health problems revealed precious little evidence of anything serious which could be directly attributed to the use of anabolic steroids. Oxymetholone (Anapolon 50) is considered to be very liver toxic but even with such an aggressive steroid it was still almost impossible to find convincing evidence world-wide of liver problems. In addition, most work suggested that injectable steroids had little long-term effect on the liver. Chris Street who writes in Flex has said this more than once.

Does steroid use cause heart problems? Again there was little evidence of any. Most anabolic steroid users have low alcohol consumptions, are intensely exercising, have low body-fat percentages. are non smokers and as such are considered as low cardiac risks. Similarly, there was little evidence of prostate gland problems in steroid users - not even with increasing age. It is often stated that prostate gland problems are increased by those steroids which can convert to di-hydrotestosterone in the body because this substance is linked to prostate gland problems in older men. But there was no evidence to support this in bodybuilders and athletes. 'Roid rage is a popular side effect for media sensationalism. In fact tests carried out with large numbers of users in the USA could find little evidence of a difference between users and non-users! Just as many experienced feelings of euphoria when on steroids as had feelings of aggression or depression.

Doubts do remain about whether using steroids increases the risks of soft tissue injuries. Many Pro Bodybuilders have had to have muscles surgically re-attached. We all know, for example, that Dorian Yates has had a string of soft tissue injuries. Many other bodybuilders have torn pecsand biceps, etc. Last year even I (hardly a world class Pro!!) suffered a ruptured quadraceps which oven after 18 months is not 100% recovered. Soft tissue injuries can be a real problem. It is very possible these days with use of steroids and other substances, that some genetically gifted young men who are heavily committed to bodybuilding can, with proper guidance, become very large and muscular very quickly. Along the way they will develop immense strength and power and this strength can be too much for tendons, ligaments and attachments which are lagging way behind in developing basic strength to handle these massive loads. This can lead to progressive weaknesses and a pre-disposition to injury. There may also be problems from suppression of catabolic hormones which are involved insort tissue repairs.

The Anti-Drugs Industry
The DEA in the USA is an enormous organisation with branches operating in every corner of the world to monitor, control, intercept, interrupt, prevent, etc. supplies of banned substances from reaching the USA. It is at the head of a powerful American anti-drugs industry which has avested interest in maintaining a fight against every conceivable drug. Steroids and related substances are a pretty minor part of the activities of the DEA and, as we have told you in the past, some agents have suggested that chasing after bodybuilders is a waste of time. What are bodybuilders but healthy young men whose only crime has been to acquire some pills or some injectable substances which may help them as bodybuilders to build the maximum of muscular bulk. But, on the other hand, we now hear that there are some agents who get a positive kick out of sending a few big muscular bodybuilders to chokey for a few years for their horrendous crimes. Bodybuilders have thought for many years that many men who poured scorn on their shape, size and power were secretly jealous of their physiques. These sorts of activities by some DEA agents suggest that the bodybuilders were right all along! These monstrous crimes by bodybuilders have little effect on anybody so it is not likely that there will be many members of thepublic in the USA or anywhere else demanding action from senators or ringing up to complain.
Over here in the UK, when did you last hear of calls to the police or politicians about the problems with bodybuilders and drugs, ‘roid rage’, etc? "I wish to complain about all the problems we are having on our estate with muggings in the streets, boarded up houses with muscle junkies inside, the whole area becoming run down, needles and other paraphernalia of drug use being dumped in the corridors and passageways. Drug dealers selling their stuff on street corners, drugs being offered to children and so on. And ifs all caused by ‘them' bloody bodybuilders! Yea, it’s "them" big, clean cut, muscular men who spend all of their spare time down that damned Gym!! And, what, I want to know, what are you going to do about it?" It doesn't have the ring of reality.

The situation world-wide with steroid supplies is getting more difficult as more governments involve themselves in the pursuit of drug users in sports. Since last years' Tour de France and the sudden realisation that 99.9% of the serious bike riders use drugs, almost every goverment in Europe has been jumping on the bandwagon - examining every pot of piss from Stockholm to Palermo; after all somewhere, mixed up with the banned chemicals, everypot may contain a few votes!! There were many surprising facts that came out of the Tour de France story and I may write something about it in the near future since there are some factors of comparable concern to bodybuilders. In recent months there seems to havebeen a rush of athletes failing drugs tests -probably because of using prohormones - they may improve your performance a bit but they will increase your risk of failing drugs tests a lot - especially if you use the nandralone precursors.

We all know, for example, that Dorian Yates has had a string of soft tissue injuries ..... these types of injuries can be a real problem.

So what about bodybuilding and theOlympics; what has happened in the last year or so? Not a lot, frankly I still see little enthusiasm or interest among real bodybuilders for bodybuilding in the Olympics and it is now certain that it will not even get a demonstration sport status in Sydney 2000. Triathlon and Trampolining have been accepted but they are the only new sports. After what has happened to bike riders in the last year, I should think bodybuilding wants Olympic status like it wants half a dozen holes in the head. Get Nasser el Sonbaty, Lee Priest, Jean Pierre Fux, Marcus RuhI and a few others on stage in an Olympic contest and the Vampires and “Piss Collectors” will be chasing them around the planet night and day with syringes and bottles at the ready for more and more samples. One writer in Muscle Mag said we would now have to get used to the idea that competition body-builders would have to be trimmed down to make them more marketable to the public. Why should they? What makes him think that somehow slimmed down bodybuilders will be come of enormous interest to the ‘general public’? Ben Weider didn't ask bodybuilders if any of them wanted Olympic recognition and all that it entails did he? He was probably more interested in mixing with the aristocratic hangers on and collecting honorary titles than in the wants of many ordinary bodybuilders. And now we must change the sport to suit a supposed public audience that has shown no interest in odybuilders at all up until now. We became what we are because we wanted to get big and massive and we support bodybuilding contests that set the standards giving us a chance to see men who have taken muscular development to the absolute limits. Who in bodybuilding cares a monkey's about “public acceptability”? Competitive bodybuilding is about building freaky physiques that blow themind, not about building pretty “Hunk of the Month" model boys for advertising Calvin Klein under-pants and satisfying the wishes of a collection of self-righteous men in suits who care not a jot about bodybuilding or bodybuilders. This nonsense is leading men's bodybuilding towards entering the same road that has been so disastrous for Women's bodybuilding - setting limits to levels of muscle size and then ensuring that the best competitors do not win. They will lose their competitors.

The only factor which may save us from this is the fact that the IFBB does not control all bodybuilding and if they proceed down the road to an IOC sport the real Hardcore Super Bodybuilders will compete elsewhere. After all Wrestling is an Olympic sport. £20 prize to the first person who can tell us who won an Olympic Gold medal for Wrestling at any weight in the 1996 Olympics - and can prove that what they say is true! The wrestling that everyone knows about and in which the pros make money is the highly correographed stuff we see on TV. And here is what most top bodybuilders want - to be able to make a living from their efforts as bodybuilders.
Rather than all this rubbish about Olympic recognition, I would like to see the existing bodybuilding organisations trying to help bodybuilders and to organise themselves to pull in the same direction. I do not think it practical or desirable to have a single world organisation running bodybuilding but do the separate organisations have to put so much effort into their petty squabbles? Recently, we were informed that Joe Weider wanted to see John Citroen in the Masters Mr. Olympia and asked Wayne deMilia if it could be arranged. It seems that the proposal was squashed by someone in the EFBB who thought it undesirable to have a NABBA Champion in the IFBB Masters Olympia. This is pathetic. Joe Welder who probably does love bodybuilding wanted John Citroen because he has a great physique and THAT is what top level contests should be about If Joe Welder could see no problem why was it stopped?

Here in the UK, cannot the various organisations arrange not to have contests in the same area on the same day? Most of us who support bodybuilding - including the competitors - will try to support many of the contests - no matter which organisation is in charge - but we cannot be in two places at once. Do we really need so many organisations? In the UK we have NABBA, EFBB, WABBA, ANB, EPF and, no doubt, you can think of others. And there will be other organisations I have never heard of in other countries all claiming to be running international contests.

Bodybuilding needs some stimulation but it does not need the Olympics.