The landscape of bodybuilding has transformed significantly over the last few decades with some major changes in competition. In a recent episode of The Muscle Maturity podcast, former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout and John Hansen recalled the 1990 Olympia drug testing and the effects it had on the participants.
Steroids have been a part of bodybuilding since the early days. From legendary competitor Arnold Schwarzenegger to modern mass monster Jay Cutler, synthetic substances have contributed to the success of many bodybuilders. Although it is widely accepted in the community, there have been calls to push back against its rampant use.
Seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold opened up on the relatively low consumption of steroids during his days of competing on stage. He argued that contemporary athletes use drugs in massive quantities, which in turn, puts their health at risk. It could also lead to an unrealistic perception of a healthy physique, potentially influencing fitness enthusiasts to use steroids as well. Schwarzenegger highlighted the problem of some competitors taking higher amounts of gear to get an advantage over others who may not consume as high of a dose.
Four-time Mr. Olympia Cutler gave his take on the heated topic last May. He admitted he may have abused drugs such as testosterone in prep for shows. He believes steroids are an unavoidable part of the game and dismissed the validity of incorporating drug tests since competitors tend to find a way around it. He recommends cycling on and off substances based on the goal. He prefers taking certain things to bulk up or to lean out.
There have been concerns surrounding the side effects of using steroids. Being one of the few competitors to stay healthy post-retirement, Cutler revealed he didn’t suffer from roid rage and continues to maintain a high level of fitness without many consequences.
Legendary competitor Robby Robinson reflected on his experience with steroids during his nearly three-decade-long career last November. He confessed to not knowing about anabolic steroids before he made it to the Pro League. He was under the assumption other athletes were simply blessed with great genetics and couldn’t fathom the idea of synthetic compounds being involved.
Fitness influencer Liver King drew a lot of criticism after getting exposed for using steroids. While he’s not a pro bodybuilder, the change in his physique after quitting steroids for a week was evident in a physique update earlier this year.
Men’s Open sensation William Bonac suffered damage to his kidneys while getting ready for contests. Since he was using steroid cycles in prep, he couldn’t consume the medicine he needed to reduce the inflammation in his kidneys. Following the 2022 Mr. Olympia, he stopped taking oral steroids while in prep for the 2023 Arnold Classic.
Samir Bannout Recalls 1990 Olympia Drug Testing
In a recent YouTube video, Samir Bannout and John Hansen shared their thoughts on the drug testing policy for the 1990 Mr. Olympia event, where eight-time winner Lee Haney emerged as the champion.
Bannout explained how the delay in test results could lead to a change in title and prize money. He referenced the overturning of Mike Ashley’s win at the 1990 Arnold Classic.
“I was one of the guys that failed the test,” said Bannout. “At the time, a doctor told me to take a short acting testosterone which is actually called masterone. He said it was androgen and this is what I got caught for. Mike actually won the prize, he ended up getting the 50 grand from Shawn Ray. That’s the first year they tested. The results came out a week later.”
Hansen chimed in with his take on why the Weiders felt it necessary to drug test athletes. He also reasoned why the testing was discontinued the next year.
“The Weiders were always worried about the public image of bodybuilding,” said Hansen. “They said the steroid scandal, the general public’s thoughts about steroids is getting worse and worse every year so we need to do something. Ben Weider’s goal was always to get bodybuilding in the Olympics. He knew that it would never get in the Olympics if it had the steroid stigma attached to it.”
“First of all, I think because the tests weren’t really accurate,” he added. “Some guys passed who looked like they were on. Mostly I think it was because the guys who were in the show didn’t look as good at all, not nearly as good. I think they were afraid of losing their audience.”
Kai Greene advised upcoming competitors to focus on building their natural talents and reaching their natural peak before going for steroids. He revealed he competed as a natty for over 15 years and considers TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) a steroid as well.
Retired bodybuilder Zack Khan highlighted the focus on becoming a mass monster last week. He believes social media plays a big role in persuading athletes to use crazy doses of steroids, something he noticed doing the era of eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman.
The prevalence of steroids has proven to be a hot topic in the sport and it appears the debate regarding its use and side effects continues to rage on as Samir Bannout and John Hansen offered their experiences.
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