T Nation

Questions About the Future of PEDs in Sports

Also I was not sure where to post this. It transcends any one of the sport subforums. And is not about getting BSL. Its defiantly not a “help me with my cycle” thread. So given its a bit more of an open ended question I’ll stick it here. If the Mods see fit to move it - so be it.

This seems like a good time for this tread. As I’ve been meaning to ask this question for a long time - but it always “crass” to ask it in the wake of some one leaving us. So with no noticeable passing’s recently (albeit 2 very sick strongmen) here goes:

Given that a majority of the worlds sporting bodies are working hard on limiting player harm (NFL, Rugby, Boxing, Soccer to name a few) can the associated world of weight training hold out much longer in turning a blind eye to PED use?
Buy this I mean the obvious use of large dosages by the pro’s.

My opinion - I’m on the side of player safety. I think they will have to step in, and soon. But I’ve really changed my mind on this in the last 3 years. I used to be much more “if they know the risks and don’t mind - then let them play” - but not anymore. And the reason is simple - the older I get the more I realise people are never “fully” in control of what they do. And all the while there is a competition, someone will want to win it. And they will do more and more extreme things to win it. Unfortunately in weightlifting more PED’s normally means better gains. But more risk. And the whole sport almost being a game of chicken with whomever is willing to take the biggest risk winning. Or at least you need to take obscene amounts to be competitive.
For that reason, I dread to think what goes on behind closed doors for professional athletes. The cruise that look like a blast. The blast that look like 5 peoples gear. These are people that have families and friends. Is it right we encourage these guys to play Russian roulette with their lives for a trophy?
I don’t think so.

I also admit that there is no “easy” solution. IF the sports some how introduce a good testing procedure and remove all / most PED’s from the sports of strong man, power lifting and BB’ing - you could have a guy running a fairly low grade cycle bigger stronger leaner than a guy on stage at the worlds in any 3 of those.

I’d like to hear peoples POV,
If you think its “fine” - then do you see the comparison with other sports where they (the governing bodies) are trying to limit long term health issue? Like repeat concussion. In rugby there was a movement opposing changes, saying that they were “ruining the game” - until a few famous guys were diagnosed with early on set dementia. That focused the public s mind on “human” angle.

People take huge doses without competing. The fairest competitions are the untested ones IMO.

I know in powerlifting, some have made arguments that PEDs could potentially be healthier in certain scenarios. Say you have a guy determined to raw bench 500 lbs. He could do it natty by being 350 lbs, or do it on PEDs at 250 lbs. Which is healthier? I am not sure I can say the natty guy is healthier? I don’t think it is necessarily clear which is healthier.

We are totally fine with PLers and Strongman getting morbidly obese for performance reasons. That is for sure not healthy. Some get morbidly obese and are abusing PEDs, which is even worse.

FWIW, I am a libertarian in regards to drugs. I don’t think we should be in the business of telling others what they can and can’t do to their bodies. I think those who run insane dosages are making a choice I wouldn’t.

Hmm. Bodybuilding-wise, could they even ask people to drop the PEDs? The entire sport is based around being bigger. In something like football or baseball, you surely don’t need to use them, right? Because you don’t need to be 220 lbs ripped. Whereas in bodybuilding, that’s like the one objective that you need to achieve? And, that is only achievable with steroid use. (Of course some PEDs add strength rather than muscle and whatnot, but still.) Tough question really. You’d cripple bodybuilding if you removed the PEDs, but there’s no doubt that sort of drug abuse really is unhealthy.

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People love freaks. We don’t shower accolades and money upon the folks who fly under the radar.

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We should all run a cycle or two so we can have a more informed discussion.


You would have to remove money AND fame. In other words, any and all incentive. So, no, it will not happen.

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PEDs will be replaced by gene therapy one day.

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I feel that any notion of “safety” or “health” as it relates to professional sports is purely illusion and fantasy. Once you start competing physically at the highest level in something, you’ve given up on being healthy.

Being the top anything at something physical is just plain not healthy. The human body doesn’t like doing that stuff. It likes moderation and homeostasis. We, meanwhile, like watching stuff get pushed to the breaking point and seeing what happens.


This is particularly evident with gymnasts, who end up with severe joint deformities, connective tissue abnormalities and osteoarthritis by the time they reach their late teens/early 20s

Marathon runners develop bursitis/osteoarthritis, stress fractures and compensated hypogonadism secondary to chronically elevated cortisol. If anything one could argue a therapeutic replacement dose of testosterone would lessen strain put on the body associated with constant, vigorous aerobic exercise. There’s even some evidence to suggest maladaptive cardiac enlargement may develop within a subset of elites endurance athletes regardless of PED use!

With football/rugby players concussions, contact injuries are all too common

All sports at the top level have PED use, whether this entails anabolic steroid use, growth hormone, EPO, dieuretics, beta blockers etc it doesn’t matter. People are willing to take drugs to gain a “one up” on competitors when winning entails sponsorships, recognition, fame and fortune. Hell… even amateur divisions aren’t always clean.

Regarding OP’s comment about more extreme patterns of use, why not advocate for a model regarding decriminalisation/harm minimisation as opposed to flat out legalisation/regulation. Have physicians moniter the health of those using, this way a platform can be created in order to deliver information to athletes/recreational users covering potential harms/ways to minimise harm.

Some physicians have taken to monitoring patients, but it’s few and far in between and a lack of knowledge/trust between doctors and patients regarding topics of this nature tends to complicate matters.

Some are going to take absurd, potentially life threatening risks. That’s on them, chances are they’re going to take these risks regardless of public/political stances associated with said actions. We’ve seen it a few times on here with guys pumping grams of tren, one teenager taking 1000mg anadrol in a 24 hour period, using a metric fuck ton of insulin etc.

Sorry for the lack of reply. There are a few things I’d like to ask people. If it feels like I’m attacking a POV I’m not. I’m just trying to understand it.

Certainly a not a point I’ve thought of before.

I understand this to a point. But what would you do if you where with a bulimic friend and then where obviously gorging just to purge later? Would you sit there and watch? Would you help? This is the position I feel BB shows are in. And strength sports also. Not with imagine but the desire to get that strong at all costs is a symptom of an illness (in my opinion).

This is my point. These people are “choosing” to be freaks. At the cost of their health. Is this a sign of a mental health issue? And as such is it right that we encourage this? Its like giving your recovering alcoholic mate a beer to make him more interesting at a party.

I don’t understand the argument. I can’t sit here and question the mortality of a promoter that offers large sums of money to the man who takes the most amount of PED’s until I’ve taken PED’s?

Great point. But is adding steroids to the equation just adding fuel to the fire?
Body building, power lifting and strong man is full of guys that are busted. Retired guys that are in pain ever day of their lives and will be until they die.
Should they be encouraged to take so many drugs they have 20/30/40 years wiped off their lives? As well as constant pain?

@unreal24278 - thanks for jumping in. I read a lot of your stuff on the other part of the forum.

Honestly - this MUST be the only solution. However even in this model there are flaws. How would it be managed? I’m not aware of how PED’s show in blood tests. Or who hard they are to take.

Honestly, anabolic steroids are the tip of the drug iceberg. Let’s talk about cortisol abuse for a second. Or amphetamines. Or insulin. Or diuretics. When people talk drug abuse/dangers in bodybuilding, steroids are amazingly some of the lesser dangerous ones.

That’s my ignorance then.

I was aware of the insulin abuse and diuretics. But I’ll be fair I simply lump them all in the bucket of “PED”.
However you want to label it - I feel its “wrong” and not something that should be encouraged.
Hell if other sports (like NFL) are taking the measures they are protect player welfare - it seems wrong to me that other pursuits can turn a blind eye.

If the NFL really cared about player safety, they would have weight limits on players. This is all theater to satisfy demand.

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It could be. We assign all of these virtues to our heros. That doesn’t mean they exist within that person. Tate, Meadows, and many others have alluded to, laughed about, and spoken directly about how damaged you have to be to put yourself through the things they’ve done, but not many people seem to hear it.

They aren’t joking.

That’s a society wide question that each individual must answer for themselves, what we value as expressed by how we patronize these activities and even as far as how we raise our kids and what we teach them to value.

It’s a really big and broad reaching question.

It’s like giving your alcoholic buddy a hundred million dollar contract to be a guest drinker at a giant firmly established institutional drinking event.

Except for powerlifting and the top echelon of BB, these guys are getting paid. In fact, for one season some are making multiples more that the vast majority of the world could hope to make in a lifetime.


You are right. And I ask it as - well I’m not sure how I felt following the WSM (remotely) Knowing these guys where all endangering their life. For entertainment.
And to be fair every other sport “seems” to be doing something to make sure their athletes live past 35 and have some sort of quality of life.
I fear the organisations within the weightlifting world are “getting away” with more then other sports because - there is no “tribal affiliation” within strength sports or weigh lifting fans.
Normally team sports have a fan base that LOVE their team. And when a guy put in 15 years service and ends eating his meals through a straw age 45 due to concussion induced brain damage - they demand change.
In strength sports and BBing a guy passes early in life and the internet if full of A-holes giving it the “they knew the risks” tripe.
I mean you get guy that follow a certain guy, or like a certain trainer. But I’ve not seen the shear devotion to a “club” or person in the weight lifting world as I have in other sports.
Or maybe its the number of fans. With something like 100 million fans watching the NFL - if 1% of them demand change that a movement. In power lifting - if there are 100,000 fans (big if) 1% of fans demanding change is easily ignored.

[quote=“T3hPwnisher, post:13, topic:270557”]
If the NFL really cared about player safety, they would have weight limits on players. This is all theater to satisfy demand.

Surely you agree that the measure in place to monitor head injuries are of some use?

I agree: I am saying that those measures aren’t put in place because the organization is interested in player safety, but, instead, because they are interested in profits and that these visible actions pacify an outcry for player safety without actually doing what is necessary to make the sport safe.

I feel like it’s more the presence of a player’s union that has the significant role here. Similar to how MMA DOESN’T have one, and combat sports athletes are treated like garbage.


IMO the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no way to put it back in. All the drugs and tech are well known and you can’t unlearn it - people will continue using no matter how many laws you have in place.

The upper elite of strongman/powerlifting/BB competitors don’t exactly lead very healthy lives even if you remove all the drugs. Eating insane amounts of calories then cutting weight/dieting down to starvation, lifting through injuries, etc. But they want to break world records so they’ll continue to do whatever will give them an edge, even if it means cutting down their lifespan significantly. I don’t think anything can really be done about it.


To say nothing of the very simple fact that lifting heavy weights is NOT healthy. Moderation is healthy: extremism isn’t. It’s simply not a sport of health.

Even if you had everyone as natural as possible, we’re still observing men do harm to themselves rather than do good. Now, lifting heavy can be done SAFELY, yes, but that doesn’t make it a healthy activity.


I think maybe a team has the ability to transcend the career of any single man and become representative of a whole town or something much bigger than the individual. I’ve been watching the Steelers for my whole life. As a franchise, they’ve been around for much longer than I have. To me and many others, they’re literally a pretty big part of this entire region. I think this goes a long way toward building that tribal affiliation.

Not many people would recognize an EAS Jesse Marunde shirt.

Along with that size and considerable financial heft is the responsibility of the organization to take care of its employees/players.

Some of these powerlifting orgs. are the equivalent to the guy with a truck who filed the paperwork to become an LLC, or DBA. They’re both one DUI or bottle of Oxy away from going under. Nobody expects much of them. You aren’t getting a retirement plan out of that. Or any type of insurance. You’re probably lucky that he/they don’t steal your shit. And you aren’t getting paid either. :joy:

I can respect the smaller guys that put strongman and pl comps and stuff together purely for the love of the sport or for the local fire hall or something though. I think they’re actually personally invested and not trying to take anything off of anybody else’s plate.

Yeah. There is a bit of that. They do a lot to foster the image of living large in BB, but really these guys that are used to counting their money by the hundred are just dazzled by people who count it by the thousand, and aren’t even aware of the next tier who don’t even have to count it anymore. If the amateurs that want to go big really knew the risks and what was at stake, they would charge millions. They’re still gonna die, but at least they’ll leave something for their loved ones.

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Robinson Cano is a baseball player, not a strength athlete. He was by consensus a Hall of Famer (in spite of being busted and suspended once for a masking agent), and had a guaranteed contract that would’ve paid him $24 million this year. Two years ago, his skills took a tail spin and he started sucking badly.

This year, he had a “resurgence” -translation: testing for PEDs was put on the back burner due to Covid. He just got busted (random test) for taking a steroid that Ben Johnson took 30!!! years ago, that’s how careless he was.

He could’ve sat on the bench all season due to sucking in 2021 and he could’ve collected $24 million!

There’s just a different mindset with these guys, sometimes unexplainable.