Steroid use is seemingly everywhere. Athletes, especially baseball players, are routinely busted for using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Steroids are football and wrestling’s dirty little secret. In fact, steroids are rampant in Hollywood as well. The former Governor of California, the Terminator himself has admitted, and has no regrets about his former steroid use. In nearly every locker room and every gym across the globe there are people using steroids in hopes of either getting stronger to dominate their chosen sport, or to get bigger to one day dominate the bodybuilding circuit. The fact is steroids are not treated like other illegal drugs; apart from a few high profile cases used as publicity to make an example, steroids are routinely looked over. After all, if everyone is using them and they make everyone more competitive, does the sport really suffer from their usage? Why not just legalize all performance enhancers including steroids, in the world of sport? Because there are always extreme cases of abuse; cases that are shocking, tragic and grotesque. Cases like these ten.
10. Markus Rühl – Turtle Belly
A professional bodybuilder hailing from Germany, Markus Rühl began training in earnest at the age of 18. Training hard six days a week, the young Rühl, who began training weighing a meagre 120 pounds, began using steroids. He was competing in bodybuilding competitions by the age of 23, supplementing his steroid cycles with other types of performances enhancers like HGH and insulin. At 41 he now weighs roughly 337 pounds, Due to the vast amounts of training he has done, and the amount of steroids Rühl has consumed, he now possesses some of the largest shoulders in weight lifting history. He also claims to be one of the strongest men alive. To go with his broad shoulders and strength, Markus Rühl also boasts an extremely distended ‘turtle belly’ stomach due to the steroids he’s taken promoting growth amongst his internal organs as well.
9. Ronnie Coleman – Gynecomastia
50-year-old American Ronnie Coleman is the one of the most decorated bodybuilders in U.S. history. He has won 8 straight Mr. Olympia titles as well as 26 IFBB wins, a record. While years of steroid use may have helped him achieve miraculous feats while competing, they have also taken a toll on his body. While using excessive amounts of testosterone during his training as well, Coleman developed, beyond his distended gut, something known as gynecomastia; essentially, he grew breasts. Not just a meagre sized pair either, these were full-on, out-of-a-magazine boobs.
8. Craig Davidson – Hair Loss, Liver Damage
Nick Cutter, Patrick Lestewka; whomever he writes as, Canadian author Craig Davidson is quite talented (read The Troop as Nick Cutter), and he is also incredibly stupid. While doing research for his 2007 novel The Fighter, Davidson decided the best way to engross himself in the process of writing about boxers was to become one, with the help of a 16-week cycle of steroids. The author bulked up quickly, rising from 170 to 240 pounds, as well as getting completely cut, but he also lost a lot of his hair (everywhere), herniated a disc in his back and got fluid in his knee. Most dangerously, his liver was damaged due to his 16-week cycle, all for his art.
7. Andreas Münzer – Heart/Liver/Kidney Failure
While the previous entries on this list dealt with somewhat serious side effects of steroid uses, all those affected are still alive to tell their tale. Sadly, Austrian bodybuilder Andreas Münzer is not. Due to the heavy cocktail of anabolic steroids, HGH, insulin, and diuretics Münzer was using in order to become a supreme bodybuilder like his heir and fellow countryman Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 31-year-old Münzer wreacked havoc on his internal organs. Following his final competition in 1996, Münzer was admitted to hospital with extreme stomach pains where it was discovered he had internal bleeding in his stomach. During surgery, the state of his liver and kidneys was discovered; they were failing, and he was too far gone to receive a blood transfusion. Münzer died in March of 1996, where an autopsy reported extreme dystrophy of the organs, hypertrophy of the heart and liver failure, all attributed to the 20 some odd drugs found in his system.
6. Matthew Dear – Multiple Organ Failure
A controversial inclusion on this list, but when the most susceptible groups of society, young people (teens in particular) are involved in steroid use because they think it will help them “bulk up” a death of a 17-year-old using the drug can’t be taken lightly. British teen Matthew Dear wanted to be a Royal Marine, but knew he would need a better, stronger physique to attain that goal. That’s when he began using steroids. Within three weeks of buying the steroids at a local gym, Matthew Dear was lying unconscious in a hospital. He never woke up. An initial medical inquiry surmised that the steroids caused his brain to swell, and his organs to fail resulting in his death. While there is controversy as to whether steroids can make the brain swell, organ failure is a serious risk one takes with the drug. Regardless, a 17-year-old died while taking steroids, something that must have more than a casual correlation.
5. Steroid Withdrawal – Teen Suicides
In keeping with the last entry on this list, it is not just while taking steroids that teens have died, it is also after abruptly stopping them. The proliferation of steroid scandals in professional baseball sparked a series of deaths amongst baseball playing teenagers who were taking the drug because “Barry Bonds did it.” This time however, it was not organ failure, or swelling of the brain but suicide that killed these teens. When an abrupt stop in a steroid cycle occurs, withdrawal may set in, hormones go into overdrive, and a potentially deep and lethal depression washes over the user.
Rampant hormones are already a teen’s worst nightmare at times; compound steroids to the mix and in these cases, the results were devastating. Rob Garibaldi from California committed suicide in 2002 shortly after discontinuing steroid use. 17-year-old Taylor Hooton, of Texas followed in 2003. 19-year-old Efrain Marrero shot himself in the head three weeks after his family discovered his steroid use and he stopped taking the drug cold turkey. Medical studies have shown evidence, if not entirely conclusive, of the correlation between abrupt steroid use and increased risk of suicide, especially in younger users, but regardless of the overall science behind it, Efrain Marrero’s mother is adamant: “steroids killed my son.”
4. Greg Valentino – Infected Bicep
A man who brazenly glorified steroid use, Greg Valentino, known as “the most hated man in body building,” held the record of having the biggest biceps in the world. The problem was, due to his steroid use, he had an extremely misappropriated body; his head sat atop his neck like Beetlejuice’s head after it was shrunk. That did not discourage the public however, making Valentino first a YouTube, then reality TV star. Soon he was a celebrity amongst the bodybuilding fan base. Like a train wreck you cannot help but stare at, Valentino became famous because he was essentially a grotesquery. The man with the biggest biceps, and yet one of the smallest intellects, in the world took the meaning of grotesque to an entirely new level after one of his giant biceps became infected. Instead of going to a doctor or a hospital to have the infection looked at and removed, Valentino decided to remove the infection himself, while filming it. After botching his own bloody, puss-filled home surgery, Valentino eventually made it to the hospital, now known as the man “whose bicep exploded.” While none of this detracted from Valentino’s fame, the subsequent drug dealing, death of his girlfriend by overdose and his own arrest ultimately led to his downfall.
3. Synthol Injections – Infections/Abscesses/Death
In Brazil the bodybuilding population is not nearly as educated on steroid use as in other parts of the world. As a result, most end up injecting themselves with something called Synthol, a lethal mixture of oil and alcohol that essentially inflates a user’s muscles. Users of Synthol are extremely susceptible to infections, abscesses, amputations and ultimately death. When cut open to treat an abscess, oil and pus are the two most common things found within; and that’s in those lucky enough to survive. Many Brazilians have died due to muscles literally exploding, causing massive blood loss, or from serious infection that kills them before the area can be cleaned out or amputated.
2. Candice Armstrong – Sex Change
The woman who wanted to be a man or at the very least, the woman who wanted to bodybuild like a man? The curious case of Candice Armstrong is an extreme example of steroid abuse run amok. Once a young, thin blonde woman from London, Candice is now, for all intents and purposes, a man. Her steroid use has caused Candice to grow hair on her upper lip, back and chest. Her breasts have disappeared underneath her hulking muscles; even her sex organs have morphed into a hybrid of male and female parts. For her part, Candice never dreamed she’d become so masculine when she began taking steroids; unfortunately for her the transformation to her body may be too drastic to reverse.
1. Chris Benoit – Murder/Suicide
Former WWE star, Canadian-born Chris Benoit was a decorated star in the world of wrestling. Having won numerous titles Benoit was always a fan favourite due to his “unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability.” It may be controversial to add him to this list, specifically at the top, because there were more than just years of steroid use that contributed to Benoit murdering his wife and child, but the fact remains steroids played a role, as did his profession which encouraged him to take steroids in the first place. The primary reason many believe caused Benoit to murder his family is the fact that his brain was severely damaged due to years of concussions incurred while wrestling, which led to deep depression. There are also those who surmise the elevated testosterone on Benoit’s system for treatment being used to reverse years of steroid abuse was a primary factor in the ability to act aggressively enough to actually commit murder. No one is saying steroid use caused Benoit’s crimes; but no one is doubting steroids played a role.