I want to be a successful bodybuilder. Should I use steroids?

This is a very difficult question to answer. On the one hand, steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that are routinely used in bodybuilding, have numerous side effects - some of which can actually be fatal. It is also now a felony offense to use such drugs for that purpose. It seems like it would be a no-brainer: Avoid the use of any such substances at all costs. On the other hand, whether you like it or not, performance-enhancing drugs are a major part of competitive bodybuilding, as well as many other sports. People who don’t know much about bodybuilding are always surprised when I say I compete in the drug-free arena: They usually ask, "You mean drug use is legal in some competitions?" I explain that while that is not stated outright, as is the case during any highly competitive athletic endeavor, any means is used to perform as well as possible. To many athletes, health and ethics are secondary - winning is the ultimate objective. There are numerous non-drug-related examples of this in the sports world. The quarterback is lauded for leading his team to victory when injured, in spite of the fact that the health ramifications of his doing so will be considerable. How about the cagey leadoff hitter who tries to "sell" being hit by an inside pitch to take first base. If no bodybuilders ever used drugs to improve their condition, it wouldn’t be an issue. Once some do, anyone wishing to compete on a level playing field against them will have to follow suit. The drug users are not evil cheaters: They’re just highly competitive athletes doing everything they can to achieve victory. The resulting paradox is that bodybuilding, a pursuit that used to be considered the quest for ultimate health, becomes, in actuality, quite unhealthy. Those looking to go to the top in the untested bodybuilding world have no choice but to play by these rules. There are, however, some other factors to consider. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, while drug-tested shows did exist, they were small-time in comparison to the mainstream ones where no testing was done. During the ‘90s, that changed with the birth of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation and professional drug-tested bodybuilding. An athlete that doesn’t want to use drugs, but aspires to be a pro bodybuilder, can now do so in this very prestigious organization. While the notoriety and financial rewards in the WNBF are relatively small when compared to the opportunities available to untested competitors, they’re growing and still sufficient to provide the motivation necessary to live the bodybuilding lifestyle without using drugs. Regardless of which direction you decide to pursue, a couple of things are certain. Even if you can justify using drugs and are prepared to deal with any of the possible repercussions associated with their use, you should only do so if you wish to compete and only after you reach your genetic potential and have achieved success in some entry level shows. Training drug-free is one option, being a drug-using highly successful participant in the untested world is another, but there’s no justification for using a lot of potentially dangerous substances and never even being able to win a small show. Even worse, accepting those risks simply to walk around looking good on the beach and never even compete is completely unnecessary. Whether or not to use steroids is an extremely important decision that should be approached in a very responsible manner. With the advent of professional drug-free bodybuilding, one should no longer feel compelled to have to do something that they are not comfortable doing. Hopefully, as drug-free bodybuilding continues to evolve and the opportunities available for natural athletes further increase, the incentives for staying drug free will keep growing.


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