As part of an agreement with Testosterone Magazine, excerpts from my new book will be published in the coming months. These excerpts detail the use of performance enhancing drugs by elite athletes as well as those in non-athletic populations. The book looks at these drugs individually in a scientific manner, something not done to date by popular books on the subject or those less read books published for members of the scientific community.

The purpose of publishing excerpts is to stimulate interest in the book as well as to educate a wide audience as to what's occurring in a segment of society that is usually clandestine. The hope is that my writing will educate and open up a dialogue on a subject that has thus far been biased, political, and extremely unhelpful to solving the problem of anabolic steroid use in society. With the publishing of The Steroid Interviews and the future publication of the book, this information is now public domain.

This month I give you a look inside the world of professional bodybuilding. If you've ever read a muscle magazine, you've no doubt wondered how in the hell those guys get that big. What do they take to get ready for a major competition like the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic or the Mr. Olympia? It was when I sat down with several IFBB professional bodybuilders that I found out. The answer lies in years of difficult training, large volumes of food, and massive dosages of drugs.

Inside The World of Professional Bodybuilding

With the publication of my book and with the excerpt you're about to read, I'm going on record as the former science editor of FLEX Magazine stating, unequivocally, that there is not one single IFBB professional bodybuilder who is not using steroids. In the past, this subject has been discussed in the mainstream media with stories appearing over the years in Sports Illustrated and in various newspapers, but no one has stated with inside knowledge the truth about the IFBB and the pervasive use of muscle building drugs. This is no longer the case.

What you are about to read is the actual drug cycle used by an IFBB male professional bodybuilder preparing for Joe Weider's 1995 Mr. Olympia contest, the most illustrious and coveted title in bodybuilding. It's the first time this information has ever been published. This IFBB professional bodybuilder entrusted me with bringing the information public upon my assurance of his anonymity. I'll describe him as follows:

This bodybuilder is one of the largest individuals ever to compete. He keeps copious records and what you'll read below was taken directly from his competition notebook. The only word I can use to describe him is enormous. He ranges from 280 to 300 pounds in the off-season and approximately 275 pounds at contest (his exact contest weight cannot be published). Without a doubt he is one of the largest bodybuilders of the modern era. This man is one the few bodybuilders who makes a living from the sport and has appeared thousands of times in the pages of both FLEX Magazine and Muscle & Fitness.

To date, as a result of his drug use, this individual has suffered no major drug-related health problems (i.e. any condition that would place him in the hospital). But, he has suffered side effects, which in the future could contribute to serious illnesses or an untimely death. These side effects were reported to me by the athlete and with permission I verified the information with his personal physician. The following is the verified list of side effects that this IFBB professional has suffered directly due to his use of physique altering drugs: altered HDL/LDL ratio (several times he's had a level of zero HDL cholesterol), temporary disturbance of normal liver function, severe hypogonadism, low sperm count, and mild depression. What does the future hold in regards to his health? No one can tell for sure.

According to the interviewee, the majority of professional bodybuilders rarely if ever see a physician to check their health status. An important fact I learned while working for FLEX Magazine was that the IFBB does not offer the competitors health insurance, nor does Weider offer insurance to the bodybuilders under contract with the company. For these men, the risks of competing far outweigh the monetary rewards. Some professional bodybuilders spend in excess of one hundred thousand dollars per year on drugs. In the IFBB, it's basically competing at your own risk.

In actuality, it would be impossible to insure these men as their cardiovascular disease risk profile would be off the chart. Despite bodybuilders having a lipid profile suggestive of impending cardiovascular disease, this effect hasn't yet become epidemic. Two reasons can likely explain this phenomenon. One, we haven't had enough time to evaluate these individuals. A few more years may be necessary to see increased mortality amongst professional bodybuilders. Second, sound dietary practice, cardiovascular exercise, and drug holidays may be offsetting potential injury to the cardiovascular system.

The Weider magazines present the bodybuilding lifestyle as a wonderful, healthy, and carefree life. In reality, this is not the case. When you speak to the pro's, one on one, candidly, they know that every injection and every pill has consequences to their future health and wellbeing. From my time at FLEX Magazine I can tell you that the potential health effects of the bodybuilding lifestyle is a subject that troubles all professional bodybuilders.

Every single one of them wonders at some time what will happen to them when they finally decide to step off the competitive stage for good. The truth is, no one knows. Not even the experts. High dose drug use amongst IFBB bodybuilders is not the exception, it's the rule. Simply put, you don't step on stage with the world's best bodybuilders and not come in loaded. This is fact.

The Drug Cycle of an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder

As the following drug cycle commenced, our interviewee was 14 weeks out from the world's most prestigious bodybuilding event, the Mr. Olympia. Upon beginning this cycle he weighed a whopping 280 pounds. Due to the possibility that he could be identified, his contest weight and his placement at the event will not be published. Below is his cycle as it was given to me (please see the drug guide at the end of the article for a brief explanation of the drugs used).

Week 14

Total weekly androgen dose: 775 mg

Week 13

Total weekly androgen dose: 775 mg

Week 12

Total weekly androgen dose: 775 mg

Week 11

Total weekly androgen dose: 775 mg

Week 10

Total weekly androgen dose: 775 mg

Week 9

Total weekly androgen dose: 752 mg

Week 8

Total weekly androgen dose: 752 mg

Week 7

Total weekly androgen dose: 752 mg

Week 6

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,103 mg*

Week 5

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,203 mg*

Week 4

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,975 mg*

Week 3

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,975 mg*

Week 2

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,975 mg*

Week Preceding the Mr. Olympia

Total weekly androgen dose: 1,575 mg*

Total androgen dose for 14 week cycle: 15,937 mg*

*Androgen totals do not include site injections of formyldienolone or oral administration of testolactone.

Analysis of the Cycle and the Bodybuilding Lifestyle

In looking at the cycle and how professional bodybuilders use steroids, one thing is evident: bodybuilders use more steroids, growth hormone, and fat loss drugs than any other group (e.g. baseball players, American football players, track & field athletes, and Olympic weight lifters). This is not just out of stupidity or abuse that these men take such large amounts of drugs; it's a matter of necessity. Understand this about the upper echelon of bodybuilding: human physiology and demands of the competition require large amounts of drugs. If you want massive muscles, you have to supply the growing tissue with enough androgen, not only to maintain that muscle, but to make it grow. In the book I cover, in detail, the above cycle and that of another IFBB pro for his off season mass building cycle.

For a man to achieve a body that carries well over 200 pounds of lean tissue is a physiologic impossibility without massive dosages of drugs. The human body was not designed to carry this much skeletal muscle under the control of a natural endocrine system. You can become a world class track athlete, NFL player, or baseball player and not use steroids. It is, however, a physiologic impossibility to become a professional or top level amateur bodybuilder without the use of these drugs.

It's difficult when looking at the bodybuilding subculture not to judge bodybuilders harshly because of the rampant use of steroids. What I can tell you from spending time around these individuals is that bodybuilders aren't bad people. Don't judge them because they use steroids. Aside from their high dose steroid use, most bodybuilders are upstanding individuals. Having said this, I ask you, which criminals are most dangerous to society, the executives at Enron or steroid using professional bodybuilders?

If you go to a bodybuilding contest you see that steroids are accepted as part of the bodybuilding subculture. At these events, no one complains or spreads rumors about who is taking steroids, everyone on the inside already knows and accepts that this is going on. Bodybuilders are not hurting anyone but themselves, and the jury is still out how much damage they are really doing to their bodies. Professional bodybuilders and other high dose steroid users are not dropping dead at an alarming rate. Given the amounts of drugs these men take, it's surprising they don't suffer more problems.

I believe we can equate bodybuilding and the high dose use of muscle building drugs to cigarettes and the heavy smoker. We all know people who smoke a great deal for years but when they stop, the body rejuvenates itself. In some cases people will get sick, but there are many who are able to go on to live healthy and productive lives. It appears as though the body has amazing capabilities of handling this drug and others. The same applies to steroids. Based only on anecdotal data, it appears as though some adult men can take large amounts of androgens for a few years and the body can recover from the negative shifts in the HDL/LDL ratio and partly recover from insult to the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal axis. However, the 1990's ushered in a new breed of professional bodybuilders.

With the emergence and total dominance of Dorian Yates and now Ronnie Coleman, these men have taken muscle mass to new levels. Growth hormone and insulin have helped create bodies which far surpass those altered by steroids alone. The health effects of these drugs appear to be serious, especially when combined with androgens and fat loss drugs. No one knows what will happen to these guys and those competitors who now follow in their footsteps. One would hypothesize based on the actions of growth hormone and insulin that the heart and other organs will undergo pathologic growth. Cancer and diabetes is also a possibility with the use of GH, insulin, and various male hormones taken in combination.

While a link to these newer growth promoting agents and increased mortality in bodybuilders is pure conjecture, some bodybuilders may be exposing themselves to the risk of developing a different set of troubles, much more serious than what could be caused by androgens alone. While future health problems can at present only be hypothesized, what has been documented to date is that several IFBB professional and amateur bodybuilders have come very close to death by the misuse of insulin.

IFBB professional bodybuilders are literally walking experimental drug laboratories. As with all experimental protocols, time is required to determine the results. Time and controlled scientific study is what is required to see the harm that may or may not occur in those who enter this uncharted territory. From seeing these guys up close, and what monetary rewards they gain from competing, I'm not sure that their drug use is worth the price they may pay in the future. Every drug has side effects, and as a weathered and very wise, old West Texas physician once told me, "Boy, there's no free lunch in pharmacology."

The Steroid Interviews Drug Guide Part II

Aminoglutethimide – Taken because the drug possesses the ability to inhibit the conversion of androgens to estrogens via the aromatase enzymatic pathway, also used as an adrenocortical suppressant (believed by bodybuilders to be an anti-catabolic agent).

Clenbuterol –A selective beta-2-agonist, used as a lipolytic agent to decrease body fat.

Dromostanolone –An injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid used for muscle gain and muscle hardness.

Ephedrine –Stimulant drug used to decrease body fat and secondarily used as a pre-workout stimulant/antidepressant.

Formyldienolone –Injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid used for its ability to cause local muscle inflammation and hence make small muscle groups appear larger or more pronounced.

Growth hormone –Injectable peptide hormone used to decrease body fat and stimulate protein synthesis.

Mesterolone –An oral anabolic/androgenic steroid. Drug does not metabolize to estrogen, and has been reported by steroid users to block the estrogen receptor. This claim has not been substantiated by science.

Methandrostenolone – Oral anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Methenolone – enanthateInjectable anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Nandrolone decanoate – Injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Nandrolone phenpropionate – Injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Oxandrolone –Oral anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Testosterone –Injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Tiratricol –Thyroid drug used for decreasing bodyfat.

Testolactone –Oral drug used to prevent the estrogen related side-effects of high dose androgen administration.

Tolbutamide –Oral sulfonylurea drug, used to increase insulin release from the pancreas and increase the sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin.

Trenbolone hexahydrobenzylcarbonate – Injectable anabolic/androgenic steroid.

Stanozolol –Injectable anabolic androgenic steroid.

Editors Note: In the next installment of the Steroid Interviews, Street visits with a lineman from the National Football League.