The presence of steroids in bodybuilding should come as a surprise to noone. There truly is no other way to gain the kinds of physiques which belong to the winners of competitions such as Mr. Olympia or Mr. Universe. Their reign of glory is always short-lived, and the ramifications of the stress that bodybuilding puts on the human body (and not just due to steroid use) can cause illness or death not long after their careers have ended. Kenneth Williams, for instance, was a competitor in the late 1990s who retired at 37 and later required a kidney transplant. The bodybuilding universe (and sports in general) is littered with fallen stars, including:
1. Lyle Alzado, NFL defensive lineman. Chiseled like a Greek statue, Alzado was a menacing force for years in pro football. He died at the age of 43, the result of a rare form of brain cancer that Alzado himself insisted was related to his use of steroids throughout his career.
2. Curt Hennig, pro wrestler. Known as “The Hawk”, Hennig’s downward spiral included addiction to painkillers as well. After his career tanked (he wound up wrestling in front of small crowds in high-school gyms), just 32 years old, Hennig committed suicide. Steroids were not directly related to his death, but were part of a deadly cocktail that had clearly derailed his life.
3. Unfortunately for a young bodybuilder named Matthew Dear of the U.K., he became a celebrity post mortem. The teenager’s death in April, 2009 has been attributed (by his parents, among others) to an overdose of anabolic steroids, which has been referred to as a “rogue batch”.
4. Bodybuilder Andreas Munzer died at the age of 31 from dystrophic organ failure. Steroids were only a part of a regimen that gave the Austrian-born Munzer a top-tier physique with incredibly low levels of body fat. The autopsy revealed that Munzer’s heart was nearly twice the size of a normal man’s.
5. Algerian-born Mohammed “Momo” Benaziza died in 1992 died in a hotel room in the Netherlands at the age of 33 during the Holland Grand Prix bodybuilding competition. He had theretofore freely admitted his use of steroids. Just down the hall from him that night was Steve Brisbois, who retired from bodybuilding the following year. “I had no choice,” he says. “The sport’s crazy. Too much drugs. If I was in it still, I’d be dead.”
(Tie) 6 and 7. Bodybuilding brothers Mike and Ray Mentzer of Redondo Beach, California, were both plagued with health problems in their late ’40s after long careers. Ray officially died of kidney failure, and Mike’s death was heart-related. One can only speculate what role steroids may have played in the premature failure of their vital organs.