Flex Wheeler still gives back to the bodybuilding community years after his retirement. In The Menace Podcast with Dennis James, Wheeler discussed competing ‘naturally, using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and recapped his experiences with insulin and site-enhancement oils such as synthol.
For more than two decades, Wheeler was a global phenomenon in the sport of bodybuilding. He displayed an unforgettable blend of aesthetics, proportions, and v-taper with many also crediting him for his flexibility, slim waist, and graceful posing skills.
While he never laid claim to a Mr. Olympia title, he came remarkably close. Despite his status as a heavy favorite at the 1998 Mr. Olympia, Wheeler fell to Ronnie Coleman after introducing ‘The King’ to his long-time coach Chad Nicholls.
Wheeler’s incredible run in bodybuilding was filled with obstacles, many of which he still endures today. In 2019, Wheeler lost his right leg by amputation following a medical complication. In addition, he’s suffered from an array of health scares in the hospital. Currently, his transplanted kidneys are showing signs of failure, which he discussed in detail on a previous The Menace Podcast appearance with Dennis James.
In his latest undertaking, Flex Wheeler looked back on beating drug tests and competing ‘naturally.’ He also reflected on his use of TRT, insulin, and synthol in a conversation with James, Milos Sarcev, and Chris Cormier.
Flex Wheeler: “I Was Natural, I Passed the Tests and I Took What the Doctors Told Me To”
While Milos Sarcev doesn’t believe Wheeler was natural when he returned to the sport, Flex said he passed drug tests and took what doctors told him to take in a legal manner.
“I didn’t tell the truth already, but the pierce is the problem that you want to bring that up. Natural, half-natural, whatever you want to call it,” said Flex Wheeler.
“It was different. The clear – there’s no such thing as a half-natural, almost natural, and this kind of stuff. There’s no such thing, you’re either or right?” asked Milos Sarcev.
“I’m natural. I was natural. I passed the tests and I took what the doctors told me to take,” said Wheeler. [If a doctor gives you testosterone are you natural?] I don’t know I guess there’s an argument right but I wasn’t taking it illegally, I was on prescriptions at that time for health reasons.”
As for his testosterone, Wheeler recounted his levels being at 79, which prompted him to receive TRT to bring him back to a ‘natural level.’
“I’m not a doctor, I don’t know, I’m being sincere, I’m being serious, I would think if it’s bringing your hormones back to a natural level, and you’re down to, I think I was at 79 when I started, somewhere around that right, because I definitely wasn’t competing in the 2000s like I was.”
“USADA doesn’t allow testosterone replacement. If you get it from a doctor because your test level is super low and you got this limp spaghetti, they will not allow for you to do testosterone replacement, that’s considered doping,” said Dennis James.
Wheeler said he used EPO and growth hormone while receiving dialysis for his kidneys.
“Seriously though, seriously, not joking, what’s crazy is when I was on dialysis, they were giving me EPO and GH,” added Wheeler.
“When you say you were natural, and I know that you were not natural, we all know that you were not natural and you tried to force it, and you passed the test, I wasn’t in the project world record for people passing tests left and right. Passing a test and being natural are two completely different things,” said Sarcev.
‘The Sultan of Symmetry’ highlighted that he took minimum dosages after returning to the stage later in his career. He was informed by doctors that he would be required to take TRT for the rest of his life or face health consequences.
“I was taking such minimum dosages, right? It has nothing to do with being gifted. I was taking what my doctors were prescribing me right? What Milos is saying right, when I went back to doing what we normally do, there was a massive change,” Wheeler replied.
“I didn’t take anything illegal. I didn’t even take any diuretics, Clenbuterol, or anything. I did only what my doctors said to take and even at that time I stopped taking EPO. So for me, that is as natural as I can get.”
“When they told me I had to go back on testosterone for the rest of my life I was so pissed because I stuck myself for over half my life and I was looking forward to never having to do it again, when he told me I had to…”
Wheeler Talks Losing Joe Weider Contract from Broken Neck and His Experiences with Synthol and Insulin
According to Wheeler, he lost his lucrative Joe Weider contract after breaking his neck. He was eventually diagnosed with colitis (the inflammation of the inner lining of the colon). Given Joe’s history, Wheeler was worried Weider would fire him for his health condition as well.
“I lost my contract with Joe Weider for breaking my neck. Nothing I had control over,” said Wheeler. “I can’t go in there and tell this dude the truth that I got an eating disorder if he’s going to drop me for breaking my neck. I told a lie. I told a lie to be able to keep my contract. He didn’t fire me for that, but he fired me for breaking my neck.”
“When he fired me, I lost my seven-story house. I had to go live with Neil,” said Wheeler.
Sarcev first brought up rumors that Kevin Levrone used 120 insulin shots before a single show. Wheeler admitted he used a product called Pump and Pose, which James confirmed was a site-enhancement oil. Looking back, Wheeler said he used the product in his calves and shoulders but avoided injecting it into his gluteal muscles.
“There was a rumor that he [Kevin Levrone] put 120 insulin shots for one show,” said Milos Sarcev.
“If you wanted to know who used the most [site enhancement oils] Kevin did,” said Wheeler. “Pump and Pose, I never messed with Synthol but I used Pump and Pose, the very first version of it. I wouldn’t mess with it later on.”
“That’s exactly what it is, Synthol,” said Dennis James. “Like Chris said, he stopped injecting his butt because it would cause it to inflame up. I understand it causes inflammation. The majority of the things that I would take, I would put them in my calves, and then I would only use in secular, the other stuff, for my shoulders. What happens is it created so much scar tissue.”
This isn’t the first time Wheeler has revealed details about compounds used throughout his career. He joined Dennis James for a discussion a month ago. Wheeler talked about a cycle he used in 1993 and stressed that competitors were taking minimal amounts back in the day.
And Wheeler isn’t the only 1990s pro bodybuilding veteran calling attention to rampant drug use in the sport today. Recently, Rich Gaspari, who pioneered striated glutes in competition, tackled the subject. He posited that athletes are abusing drugs on a more frequent basis instead of building a physique with hardcore training and a clean diet.
A living legend of bodybuilding, Flex Wheeler will always be adored by fans given his honest and straightforward nature. While Sarcev may doubt some of his natural claims, it’s evident Wheeler overcame adversity on a number of occasions during his career.