“Man, you’re pretty big. What are you some kind of bodybuilder?” “Yeah, I’m a bodybuilder….and oh yeah, I’m 100% natural.” Most who’ve entered a gym have witnessed this discussion unravel at least once. However, in all honesty, was this emphatic exchange truly necessary?
The bodybuilder is natural…congratulations! What an accomplishment! Even though it wasn’t brought up in questioning, he still felt it imperative to disclose this pertinent information. Why is it those who choose the “natural” path, are so adamantly determined to stand on their soapbox and vociferate to the world “look at me! I’m a bodybuilder! I’m natural! I’m a real bodybuilder!”
It is paramount to understand, I have nothing against natural bodybuilder’s. I bare no animosity. I don’t have a strong repugnant distaste or hatred towards these individuals. The fact they’re natural makes no difference to me…and neither should it to you.
It remains; the proverbial line between natural bodybuilder’s and those who opt for the alternative route has been unleashed. Who drew this line? I’ve yet to hear from the Führer of the Anabolic Regime, disclose his opinion, stemming from detestation; in a manner of vile refute demeaning the “natural” bodybuilder. Still, the battle between the two camps rages on.
Natural bodybuilder’s have developed a loathsome hatred towards their counterparts. Formulated from jealousy; from misinformation; standing on a pulpit draped in a self-righteous cry of “holier than thou.” Here in lies the enigma. The natural bodybuilder has created an adversary that doesn’t exist. He has created an antagonist out of hate, for no other reason then by way of a simple personal choice. Countless cries are made implying what the enhanced user does is immoral, it’s unfair, and it’s in fact cheating. Well, is it? The natural bodybuilder chose other means he remained natural. Has the enhanced bodybuilder done anything that’s beyond the natural’s grasp?
It’s an accepted truth that society doesn’t accept bodybuilding as a legitimate endeavor. Natural or not, this world will forever be alienated from the mainstream. The natural bodybuilder believes steroids are the fountainhead of the problem. The reason alienation exist, is by his conviction, created by the use of anabolic steroids…that and nothing more. Is this a truthful statement? Is the “natural” correct in what he’s ascertained? This would be dubious. Is there really anything natural about bodybuilding in the first place? Is there anything natural about forging a physique larger, harder, more defined then you would have “naturally” otherwise…steroids or not?
Let’s examine what some “naturals” ascertain against the enhanced bodybuilder, i.e. the side effects, and more importantly the moral or immoral aspect. The most common side effects, the ones you are land blasted with by the cyclic media outlets are, “Health Risk” Roid Rage” and “Suicide.” First and foremost, not all natural bodybuilders use these claims in support of their position; it is those that do who are the subject of these bullet points as means of justifying their hate. Let’s look at what credible medical evidence has to say about these things.
Over-all health risk
Anabolic steroids are used widely in the medical field without any serious health risks to users, and no scientific evidence has shown any long-term serious health defects from correct use of anabolic steroids. While risk of death is present in many drugs, the risk of premature death from use of anabolic steroids seems to be extremely low. (1,2)
One of the most common misconceptions regarding the side effects of anabolic steroids is known as ‘roid rage’. There seems to be little or no evidence such a condition actually exists. Most studies done on "angry behavior" and anabolic steroid use show no psychological effect, implying that either "roid rage" doesn't exist or that anabolic steroids' effects on aggression are too small to be measured. Many scientists and medical professionals conclude anabolic steroids have no real effect on increased aggressive behavior (3,4,5)
With the suicide rate this high among teenagers, concluding anabolic steroids are responsible for the suicides of teenagers who happened to be taking them prior to committing suicide is a post hoc logical fallacy. Also, even though teen bodybuilders have been using steroids since at least the early 1960s, only a few cases suggesting a link between steroids and suicide have been reported in the medical literature (6, 7)
The undeniable next question is; how can the above be true? There is no way these statements above can be true, right? There is no way credible, dependable, rational and trustworthy science or medical knowledge could produce such claims when all we are told by the media machine is the unequivocal repugnant inverse, is there? Contrary to many people’s beliefs, contrary to what you will hear from those who fuel themselves off their own hate towards enhanced users, these findings came from some of the most credible and respected outlets on the planet. If The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and other well known and revered institutions is where such info comes from, then nothing on this earth or anywhere else could be deemed viable.
We have now reached legality, the moral quam in which so many base their assault upon. The use of anabolic androgenic steroids in illegal, anyone who uses such substances is in fact breaking the law. This is the claim, this is the smoking gun many who live by the stem of hate live and die by. One can argue safety, the fact that the risk involved in taking AAS is a farfetched lie, but to argue against this one legal fact is what always makes room and provides comfort to the chemical hate. Again, let’s examine.
In the early 1990’s, The United States Congress made the use of anabolic steroids illegal, against the advice of the American Medical Association, the FDA and against the advice of almost every government funded health and medical institute in the U.S. However, there is one piece of this puzzle you seldom will ever hear those who admonish enhanced users take hold of as truth. Yes, illegal AAS use is in fact illegal, but unlike drugs such as cocaine, anabolic androgenic steroids can be obtained legally; in fact, many would be surprised as to how many bodybuilders exist that actually obtain every last drop of oil, every last tab they take completely legally without breaking the law in any shape form or fashion. Granted, this so called “loop hole” in the law may not always exist, but in the present state and age we live, it is in fact 100% illegal to use such items legally with a prescription from a licensed physician.
Where does this all leave us? Where in lies the truth, where in lies the truth as to what makes a bodybuilder
legitimate as well as the society in which he is a part of? The true bodybuilder is determined to build the best physique he can by any means he deems necessary. The bodybuilder who chooses to use chemical enhancement hasn’t taken the “easy” way out. He hasn’t chosen his path in order to reach his pinnacle by means of “less” work. After all, part of the desire to take these drugs is so more work can be done. Therefore, you recover faster. Then you can push yourself harder. Then you can be the most exemplary bodybuilder, you can be.
The world of bodybuilding
may never reach a level of equitable approval by society. This is a discouraging reality. In the end, if those who call themselves natural could find away to attain an understanding, we’re all bodybuilder’s, we’re all striving to accomplish the same goals. If the two camps could come together and let this insignificant technicality collapse, bodybuilding as a sport would find itself in a much stronger position. It’s an extremely arduous task to convince society that what we do is a commendable endeavor, when there’s an unremitting civil war among its population. Both sides should find a way to reach an accord. They may disagree on the means by which they achieve their success, but to bash the other side is a futile ploy that only hurts our community as a whole.
The conversation would be more effective if it went like this: “Man, you’re pretty big. What, are you some kind of bodybuilder?” “Yeah, I’m a bodybuilder.” End of story.
- The National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health.
- The New England Journal of Medicine
- Archives of General Psychiatry
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
- National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Jack Darkes PhD Department of Psychology University of South Florida
- National Institute of Mental Health