TOPIC: Should The IFBB Ban Steroids For Real?
The Question: With the latest controversy surrounding Arnold's involvement in professional bodybuilding and its promotion, some have asked for the IFBB to ban steroids and other illegal drugs "for real". The IFBB says they are not allowed in its competitions, but everybody knows that the pros are using illegal drugs and most of the pros will admit it. Should the IFBB crackdown on illegal drugs and seriously test every athlete for all illegal drugs before and after every competition?
If so, what would be the effects on pro bodybuilding? Would it gain more mainstream acceptance? Or would small, less freaky athletes simply draw less of a crowd until IFBB pro shows are as small as amateur shows? What would be the effect on the entire bodybuilding and fitness industry?
If you do not believe they should ban illegal drugs, then why do you believe this? Do you believe that sooner or later law enforcement will start arresting more of the pros? Or will they ignore it like they do with rappers who admit to smoking weed?
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1st Place - ~jAmeZ~
Why Bodybuilding Needs Steroids
I want you to think about how a steroid ban could affect bodybuilding as a whole. Take your mind off the obvious. Sure, the bodybuilders themselves would be smaller. Fans might turn their backs. But this is nothing compared to the bigger picture. A steroid ban could destroy bodybuilding as we know it.
A steroid ban could cost fans more cash to see their heros. A steroid ban could actually increase drug abuse. A steroid ban could splinter bodybuilding into warring federations. And the public would see bodybuilding as an even bigger freak show.
- Steroid Ban Would Cost Fans $$$
The IFBB's first step in really banning steroids is serious testing. And serious testing would cost millions each year. Weider would lose a large chunk of his profit margin. But no businessman likes losing profit.
Weider would probably pass the testing costs onto bodybuilding fans by increasing ticket and merchandise prices. And he might also cut his operating expenses - so the 2006 Olympia could be coming soon to a high school auditorium near you.
This is not an exaggeration. The Sydney Olympics spent $4 million on proper drug testing procedures and another $1.6 million on research, just so they could keep up.
Four years later, the Athens Olympics spent almost twice as much on testing and research. And the Olympics only happens every four years, for two weeks at a time.
Now, think about how many IFBB shows are held each month all over the world. Hard-to-beat testing costs an average of $100 for each drug tested for. Multiply that figure by the list of possible performance enhancers taken by your average pro bodybuilder; and the list of diuretics; and masking agents. Then multiply that figure by the number of bodybuilders who place in each show.
Weider would not tolerate such huge financial losses. He would probably make the fans pay dearly for his extra bills.
- 90 Million Reasons To Keep Steroids
An IFBB steroid ban would give a business rival the perfect opportunity to start another bodybuilding federation. A federation that allowed steroids.
Why would a rival bother? Well, creating a pro-steroid federation would be highly profitable. Weider currently uses his top bodybuilders to promote millions of dollars worth of merchandise.
Weider Nutrition alone turns over an average of $360 million every year. But a steroid ban would make Weider's bodybuilders smaller.
The rival pro-steroid federation would have much bigger guys. Advertisements with big guys can sell more protein powder, home gyms and magazines than ads with smaller guys. The IFBB has proved that to be true with its own marketing practices.
A pro-steroid federation could easily encourage star bodybuilders to leave the IFBB. On one hand, the stars could maintain their reputation (which they built on steroids) and keep their fans. And the rival federation could pay them better, because Weider's shrinking market share would lead to less lucrative endorsement contracts.
And the situation we are in today repeats itself. The rival federation encourages freakish physiques, so their bodybuilders take more drugs. The problem does not disappear. It just moves sideways.
And what if more than one rival seized the opportunity to start a new federation? We end up with a situation similar to the IFBB vs. World Bodybuilding Federation of the early nineties. It was an ugly 18 months for bodybuilding. Even when the WBF folded, the repercussions and bad blood among the athletes was felt for years afterwards.
- Far From Conspiracy Theory
Sure, you have probably not heard this kind of argument against a steroid ban before. But it could happen. Think about the relationship of steroids to bodybuilding.
Then think about the relationship of bodybuilding to the $21.5 billion US fitness industry. A steroid ban could drastically change the shape - literally and metaphorically - of bodybuilding as we know it.
A Final Note: Bringing Back The Golden Age
The common argument for banning steroids is based on health and aesthetics. What people really mean when they say steroids should be banned is "I don't like the way steroids are turning some pros into cow-gutted freaks with dangerously high blood pressure".
It's true... few modern bodybuilding stars seem to consider symmetry. They strive only for bigness, which means big doses of anabolics.
But bigness is more a symptom caused by IFBB judging than drug abuse. Look at the last two decades of the Olympia. Haney beat Labrada in 1989… because he was bigger, and arguably not better.
Ditto for the massive Dorian downing Shawn Ray in 1994. The message from modern judges was clear: if you want to win, you have to be the biggest.
Compare this to the Golden Age of bodybuilding. John Grimek chiseled down his massive physique to win the 1948 Mr Universe over Steve Reeves. Grimek knew he needed to be "complete" to win over the judges, not just "big". Schwarzenegger realised he needed more definition when he lost to Zane in 1968. So he cut 15 lbs from his huge frame and never looked back.
It would be impractical and virtually impossible for the IFBB to stamp out steroids from bodybuilding. But the IFBB can help prevent their abuse by changing the criteria their judges use to pick winners.
Would fans be turned off by the smaller, more symmetrical physiques? Put it this way: any magazine with Arnie on the cover is still a sell-out. And this guy was 40lbs "smaller" than Ronnie.
2nd Place - Kill yourself
This topic is one that is extremely subjective. A good load of people would say "yes, of course", and would follow up by taking out their bible of steroid effects on the body.
While others will say that steroids is an essential part of bodybuilding and without it the original essence of it would be lost. So let us just review the facts and try to come out with a decision.
Testosterone And Anabolic Steroids For Replacement Therapy
The Picture Given To The Public About This Topic
The IFBB has portrayed an image that in their rulebook, steroids are banned and not encouraged and yet we see 300 lb ripped machines standing on stage. Natural? I don't think so. So in order to make a desperate and useless attempt to maintain their creditably, once in a while they will pick out a scapegoat to be "caught" for using a banned substance.
A very good example of that would be the disqualification at the Mr Olympia 2001. For those of you that are not sure about what exactly happened, Here's the story.
"It has now been confirmed that Jay Cutler, 2001 Mr. Olympia runner-up, and Markus Ruhl, 14th at the Olympia, have been informed by the IFBB that their urine samples tested positive for banned diuretics.
IFBB rules state that individuals whose samples test positive as a result of the contest's mandatory diuretic test will lose their placing and prize money and that all those athletes finishing below them will subsequently move up in prize money and placings (Editor's Note: Except for Jay Cutler, he hired a lawyer and gets his prize money ($60,000) and his silver medal back. Read more."
Is This Fair?
You must be asking this question right now. Hell no. Of course not! But since it is known everywhere that bodybuilding is a very political situation, if Weider doesn't like you, you don't win. After all, it is his competition that you are competing in.
So in other words, he is the man and he makes the rules. He is able to do that because of the almost similar freaky body shapes that these IFBB pros have. Would a normal Joe on the street be able to tell if Dexter Jackson should win or Markus Ruhl should win?
The fact is that because their bodies are so huge and ripped it would take more than just average pairs of eyes to determine the winner. So because of this, Weider is able to do favoritism judging on the pros.
By now most of you would have realized that all IFBB pros use one or another form of banned substances. And for most of us, due to the enormous variety, we just simply call it steroids.
It is the core reason behind those massive bodies. Of course a perfect set of genetics, perfect diet, and perfect training is included. But without steroids, you can have the rest perfect your whole life and wouldn't be able to dream of ever becoming so big.
Effects Of Steroids Usage
Their effects are enormous and too much to be able to list each and every one of them.
Just To Name A Few:
- Sodium Retention
- Gynecomastia (shown to right & yes, that is a guy)
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Enlarged Heart (3 x Normal Size)
The list goes on and on. In order to "dodge" these side effects or rather slow down the speed it takes place, users cycle the product to achieve as much gains as possible with as little side effects as possible. But eventually time will catch up with them. Then they can either fight to death or stop with what they got.
Not to mention, one must be implemented with a perfect set of genetics to be able to withstand the amount of abuse these steroids can do on the body.
Things That Would Happen If Steroids Are Truly Banned
- Drug testing for every competitor during competition and not to mention off season random checks to assure fair play.
- Smaller sized competitors, causing the pro show to turn into any other ordinary amateur bodybuilding show.
- Testing cost money and there would be a huge drop in the sales of pro-steroid magazines which would in turn mean that less revenues would be made (no one would buy a magazine that has a world champion with a body that would make you doubt if he should be the world's best bodybuilder, when you are seeing larger guys in the gym).
- With the reduction in revenues, the prizes in the annual pro shows would be so miserable that it would not even be enough to cover the transport from state to state just to compete.
- That would mean there is practically no money to be made in professional bodybuilding. And yes, bodybuilding would be as good as shut down.
The whole thing is just one big financial game. Although we all know about the detrimental effects of steroids abuse, It is part of the dark side of the sport that strikes a balance in things. In everything around us, there is a good side and a bad side of things and without either sides the situation will not be in balance.
In a matter of months the industry will practically collapse. No big money to be made at all. Expo shows will be too expensive to maintain. Without huge bodybuilders present, sponsors will not be interested due to the expected low turnouts at such useless shows.
If steroids are banned and every bodybuilder is so small, would it even require acceptance? They would be like everyone else, who are already naturally accepted.
Is there even a sport to begin with in the first place. We could say with natural athletes people would begin to accept bodybuilding, but the truth is that with the cutting of steroids in the pro scene, there is nothing else to watch.
We all watch bodybuilding shows to see the huge freaks after years and years of dedication. Not many would pay and fly to Las Vegas to watch a bunch to Jean Claude Van Dam wannbe posing.
What they want is a Ronnie and Markus doing a most muscular pose together, Dexter and Melvin do abdominal poses. That is exactly why people pay so much for it.
Ronnie & Marcus Doing A Most Muscular Pose At The 2004 Olympia.
Running Into Trouble With The Law
The law is "most of the time" very firm and strict with anything that threatens to break it. However, in order for the law to operate, money must be used too. Court hearings, state lawyers, policeman, detectives etc. The list of expenses goes on and on. All this money does not magically drop from the skies.
This money comes from hard earned taxpayers money and every year that is budgeted as to how much you are allowed to spend. Because of that, it must be used with caution and with great considerations of the pros and cons. So common sense would tell you that the money should be used in ranking of endangerment to the public by the law breaker.
They are both crimes. And for both you could serve jail term. But would you rather catch the steroid users or the bank robbers. Needless to say it would have to be the bank robbers.
Thus in regards to the theory that more pros will be cracked down upon is highly unlikely. After all, Ronnie got away with it for so long even though he was once a cop. Most likely the police will be too over-occupied with rapes and murders to bother about some steroid user. It is common sense.
Why Steroids Should Stay
- It provides a source of inspiration for young kids trying to get into shape. I mean would you be more inclined to draw passion for bodybuilding from the Arnold or Brad Pitt?
- Without steroids and huge freaks, there will not be enough revenue to go around because of the drop in ticket, product, and magazines sales.
With anything in the modern world today, money runs the system, passion only goes so far. So without the massive bodybuilders, it is simply impossible to maintain the sport. If it were possible, NPC would already be as big as the Mr. Olympia.
- Although steroids are bad, everyone and I really mean everyone, already knows that it is a harmful drug. Even if someone is not completely sure about how it affects the body, they would know not to touch it.
So in the event that you do actually use steroids, you would already be fully aware of the side effects and have accepted it as a risk you are willing to take in order to achieve what you want.
Steroids, though bad, should never leave the pro scene. It must never and most probably never will. I am all against the idea of enforcing the rules on banned substances. There are too many disadvantages that would completely smash the small advantages.
This week, we had a 3 way tie for 3rd place (they are in no particular order).
3rd Place (tied) - ScorpioBrat
From A Pharmacy Point Of View...
Ok, I work at a pharamacy; I used to do personal training in a competitors gym - i.e., both sides of the track here..(or so I'd like to think)
People are going to do the drugs regardless - if there is a will there is a way - thus it would be fruitless for the IFBB to ban steroids for "real."
As someone previously said there would be another organization accepting those athletes and giving them endorsements - there will always be a home for the people who are at extreme ends of either side of an argument. Not to mention there is always a new drug out of hiding or that wouldn't be detected yet...
On the other hand, a wo/man makes choices in his or her life on their own - if they choose to kill or severely incapacitate themselves for a sport (due to or not due to psychological or insecurity issues) that is their choice.
I knew a bodybuilder who would use steroids every time he lost a set or rep - but I also knew a pro who only used it when it was time for a competition. Coleman, I've heard, has trouble functioning - but that was his choice - it is what has made him happy (hopefully). His health has paid for his wealth.
Discuss This With Others & Voice Your Opionon Here.
Of course, I think certain steroids should be legalized - if people are going to do them - doctors should accept that and monitor them. Otherwise you run the risk of people damaging things or possibly killing themselves. Forbidden fruit tastes the best after all doesn't it?
3rd Place (tied) - gracurtisce
Should The IFBB Enforce A Steroid Ban?
Banning steroids from professional bodybuilding could be both good and bad, depending on what side of the fence one sits on, but before any firm decision is made, one way or the other, the pros and cons of this steroid ban need to be determined and debated vigorously.
Craig Titus & King Kamali Kidding Around On Stage.
Many would argue that, fundamentally, bodybuilding is a sport that showcases the extremes to which the human body can be taken, and should continue to promote the types of physiques currently on display.
It is also common knowledge that steroids are used prolifically among competitors to help create these types of physiques - the massive bodies that actually help to sell magazines, nutritional products and tickets to bodybuilding contests.
Irrespective of how well established is the fact that pros use steroids, bodybuilding fans will probably continue to want to see the massive physiques that can only be created chemically, and it is the fans who purchase magazines, products and tickets, and keep the multibillion-dollar bodybuilding industry ticking along.
One could argue that the issue of steroid use ultimately hinges on what the fans want to see, and if the fans are happy with the types of non-chemically assisted physiques witnessed at the natural bodybuilding shows (the types of physiques seen in any gym in any country) then there is probably room to move on the actual banning of steroids.
So it probably boils down to a complete paradigm shift in what the paying public want to see before any firm changes can be made - the public, after all, keeps the industry growing.
Banning steroids would involve implementing stringent testing procedures for all pro-shows. The cost for doing this would be astronomical, a further cost to an industry already under siege as the crowds become disillusioned with the emphasis on smaller muscles and mediocrity (rightly or wrongly the steroid enhanced physique is at the upper end of what can be achieved in bodybuilding).
Drug testing is somewhat of a nebulous process at best, with many avoiding detection, as the methods for detection avoidance become more sophisticated - and they will if the IFBB enforce compulsory testing of all athletes.
If the IFBB want to create a level playing field by testing all athletes, the athlete might look to other drug options - ones that haven't made the banned substances list at the time of testing. It could go on and on until the sport is full of designer drugs and the implications of this are dire as far as cleaning up the sport is concerned.
Did You Know?
That steroids were legal up until the early 90's.
If the IFBB were to ban steroids, their pro-athletes might choose to compete under the banner of a different federation. Federations might increase in number to accommodate a mass defection, and the athletes would carry on their merry, drug induced, way. However, given that the IFBB is the biggest, the message sent might persuade others to follow their lead.
Banning steroids might also rob bodybuilding of some of its allure. The massive (steroid produced) physique can only be seen, at its best, in a pro show. The competitors in these shows are almost exclusively on steroids, to greater or lesser degrees.
Take this away, and there may no longer be 250 lb. ripped physiques sporting 24 inch arms and 35 inch quads - the types of freaky physique that attract many fans to the sport in the first place.
Removing steroids might remove the allure and the shock value of such a physique. The smaller muscular physique can be seen almost anywhere. If pro-shows were comprised of these physiques, attendance rates (and overall fan base) would probably taper significantly, affecting the industry as a whole. Removing steroids could, indeed, cripple the sport.
On the other hand, banning steroids from bodybuilding would possibly help to clean up the sport, in that competitors will be healthier and the public will have more realistic physiques to emulate. However, this would depend on whether the athlete is prepared to make this choice to quit.
A young aspiring bodybuilder would never obtain a 'pro-bodybuilder' physique without the help of steroids. Pro-bodybuilders undoubtedly inspire beginning bodybuilders and a switch to steroids is often the logical step for these beginners after the inevitable plateau ensues.
The sport of bodybuilding has, for many years, been tainted with the widespread use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances.
The general public, often through the media, are presented with an image of bodybuilding, and bodybuilders, which contradicts the healthy principals set out by many of the larger sporting bodies such as the IOC - themselves not exempt from drug-users.
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Sport and exercise are generally seen as both physically and psychologically healthy pursuits and vigorously promoted as such. Bodybuilding, however, is often seen as a sport of freaks, hell-bent on destroying themselves in the pursuit of physical glory - despite the relative paucity of data to support this belief.
The fundamental problem for bodybuilders using steroids is that using them for performance enhancing purposes is currently illegal.
By virtue of this use, bodybuilders are committing a criminal act, and, it could be argued, bringing the sport of bodybuilding (a sport that started off as a natural pursuit) into disrepute. For a large number of athletes to be branded as criminals simply presents a very negative image of the sport.
Arguments For Both Sides Of The Question
To Summarize, Steroids Should Be Banned From Bodybuilding Because, It Could Be Argued:
- They are detrimental to health. A whole host of health problems are attributable to steroid use (cardiovascular problems and cancer to name but two) and while these problems are occurring, the sport will be viewed in a negative light.
- Using them for bodybuilding purposes is a criminal act, under current legislation. Steroid use makes criminals out of bodybuilders and this also increases public castigation the sport.
Dennis James (IFBB Pro Bodybuilder) Being Arrested. Read The Full Story Here.
- Distorted physiques result. The increasing use of steroids, and growth hormone, have been blamed for the higher number of distorted physiques on show. The large gut, gynecomastia (bitch tits), unrealistic proportions and disproportion could all be attributed to steroid use. These features are unpleasing and serve to turn fans away while further fuelling mainstream condemnation of the sport.
- It is ethically wrong to use them. Using steroids provides an unfair advantage for the user. The physiques of their non-using counterparts could simply not compete with their chemically assisted physiques. This could be viewed as unfair and the drug-using athletes could be labelled as cheats.
- Drug-free physiques will enhance the growth of the sport over the long term as beginning athletes will transform their physiques to the required standard, on an even footing with their peers, over a shorter period, given that the benchmark for mass and cuts will need to be lowered - drugs enhance these qualities.
However, A Case Could Be Made For Maintaining The Status Quo:
- The bodybuilding industry could be adversely effected if steroids were banned. The spin-offs such as supplement sales, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, and ticket sales, which result from the massive physiques that are produced by steroids would dwindle if a ban was effectively placed on the very physiques that sell these products and services in the first place.
"A steroid ban could cripple the bodybuilding industry."
- Banning steroids might rob bodybuilding of its allure, and shock value, both of which attract a fan base. Lets face it: the massive physiques seen at bodybuilding shows have a certain appeal. It has been said that people go to the circus to see lions and tigers, not hamsters and field mice. Bodybuilding competition is similar.
- Banning them would not solve any of the above problems as they will continue to be used and athletes will simply shift to another federation rather than discontinue their use. Federations might increase in number to accommodate the large number of bodybuilders who refuse to bow down to the IFBB'S new policy. This would simply spread, and possibly increase, the problem.
- The testing procedures designed to detect steroid levels are not 100% accurate. This makes the whole process of testing fatuous at best. If only some competitors are caught, what is the point of testing?
Not only is this unfair to those who are caught (Jay 2001), but it encourages the athletes who do manage to cheat the system to continue to beat the tests, and the athletes who are caught to devise ways of beating the tests.
So to ban steroids or not to ban steroids? I would personally like to see them banned to promote the health aspect of the sport and encourage a life-long pursuit for fitness and strength.
As mentioned, steroids are problematic in many ways, and a ban might encourage newcomers to the sport to emulate a more realistic example.
There are many fors and againsts but by banning steroids, a healthier physique will be the result, and the sport will probably have greater appeal to the mainstream public, and this in itself could go a long way toward improving the image bodybuilding currently has.
However, the problem is an exceedingly complex one, with many of the arguments presented in this essay contradicting one another. Before a decision is reached, many concerns will need to be ironed out.
3rd Place (tied) - antihero
Should You Be Considered A Drug User If You Used The Drug Before It Was Illegal?
For many years now, steroids have been "banned" from use. Although some arrests are made on this, there aren't enough steps taken for this "ban" to be taken seriously. So, for a significant amount of time, regular people use them quietly, while pros use them publicly because they know they can get away with it.
Recently Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing to actually enforce this ban at his event (Arnold Classic), and pushing to enforce this in two well-known magazines (Flex, and Muscle and Fitness). But, Arnold has admitted to using steroids and smoking pot and also has said that he does not regret using them because at the time they were legal.
These events have had the bodybuilding community question how they would be affected by this, and how the sport in general will be affected by this.
Effects Of An Industry Not Based On Steroids
An event like this would certainly have a tremendous effect on the entire bodybuilding industry, but the effect would be a very positive one. If the bodybuilding industry were no longer based on steroids, these would be the effects:
- Contestants would appear more aesthetically pleasing. Steroid use can often lead to a 'gut' (), and many people don't like the appearance of having that instead of the "picture perfect 6-pack" that the guy on the front of a magazine has.
- Seeing professionals turn away from steroids and promote proper diet and training may lower the amount of children who use steroids to achieve their goals.
- 8th graders who have used steroids:
1.7% (year 2000) » 2.5% (year 2003) *
- 10th graders who have used steroids:
2.2% (year 2002) » 3.0% (year 2003) *
- 12th graders who have used steroids:
2.5% (year 2002) » 3.5% (year 2003) *
Children this young should not even be thinking about steroids, let alone using them. Taking these things can completely screw up their endocrine system.
- It would promote more people to get into the sport of bodybuilding. If everyone was on a "level playing field" (so to speak) more people would be allowed a chance to compete. That means that if everyone was doing it naturally (without using substances that would possibly jeopardize their health) then more people would be interested in doing it.
When a professional stepped on stage, and he worked naturally, he would be smaller. But that also means that more people in the audience would say to themselves: "I can do that".
I feel that too many people are driven away from this sport because they see contestants such as Ronnie Coleman and they say to themselves: "I could never look like that". So, I think that instead of shrinking the crowds because there are 'less freaky' athletes, it would actually expand the crowd.
What It Would Take To Put Ban Into Action
But for this to actually happen, we need to take a look at another picture, the bigger picture. What would it take to put this ban into action?
- What would the current competitors do if they disqualified anyone who uses, or has used steroids? It just wouldn't be fair to them to make a decision that throws away everything that they have worked their whole lives to accomplish.
- Think about every steroid out there; every form and derivative. Then consider research and development. Now figure out the cost. You can't. The point is, it's not even practical to consider testing for all the steroids on the market, the contest just wouldn't be able to afford it. The amount of money that would go into a venture like that is astronomical.
As much as I'd like to see steroids removed from bodybuilding, it just can't be done. So unfortunately, I have to say no.
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