I've known hundreds if not thousands of steroid users. Most, however, followed the sketchy advice they picked up from Bill Phillip's Anabolic Reference Guide or Dan Duchaine's Underground Steroid Handbook.
If either book said to use such-and-such a drug for x number of weeks, the reader did it. If either book said to taper off after so many weeks, they did it. Trouble is, most of the information in those two books – in practically any steroid book – is based on either the author's personal experience or his limited experience in applying his theories to a small number of friends or clients.
In truth, most people who use steroids don't cycle, taper, or switch drugs after so many weeks. They use what they have and they use it until the supply or their money runs out.
Just last month Jim Wendler interviewed "Johnny Juicer," a steroid user. The article inspired a lot of heated debate about the merits of cycling and other widely accepted steroid lore.
It also inspired a reader of Dave Tate's site to contact Dave with his own steroid story. This particular reader has been using steroids – sometimes staggering amounts of steroids – for most of the last 30 years and he was eager to spill his guts, in part to defuse some of the steroid arguments that the Johnny Juicer article had prompted.
Rather than endure more arguments over the topic on his site, Dave put the steroid user in touch with me so I could interview him for T-Nation. The confessor wanted to remain anonymous, but I can tell you that he's been competing as a powerlifter for over 20 years and that he competes in a weight class over 220 pounds.
To honor his request, I'll refer to him as "Steroid Lover," or just plain SL.
Here's what he had to say:
T-Nation: When did you first start using steroids?
SL: I started taking stuff in 1984.
I was thrown in a powerlifting gym when I was 14. I'd been training there for a year or two, and I'd got some weird notion in my head that I wanted to use this weird "anabolic" Mega Pac supplement. So, one of the guys in the gym was selling stuff and he gave me some Mega Pacs and this other bottle of shit. I'm taking the stuff, and I'm getting stronger than shit. I'm like 15 by then and I'm thinking I'm some sort of phenom.
A little while later, after Time magazine or something had done a feature on steroids, I went into the gym and said, "Hey, I want to do this shit," and they all started laughing.
T-Nation: Wait, let me get this straight, some guy just gave you stuff without telling you what it was?
SL: Yeah. It was basically a football coach who'd given me D-bol with the Mega Pack. I don't have any animosity towards the guy. I actually thanked him.
The only reason I don't have harsh feelings is that I was going to do it anyway. I wanted the shit in the fucking needles, though.
Yeah, it's a fucked up story, but it was probably the greatest gift he ever gave me.
T-Nation: So how did it progress from there? What did you start using next?
SL: I was pretty much on just Test and D-bol. Man, if I could have forecasted the future, I would have bought suitcases full of that shit! I was paying five dollars for a bottle of D-bol back then. I used to save my lunch money so I could buy it.
I would take 1 to 2 cc's of Test a week, and maybe a couple of D-bol tabs every day. It wasn't that extreme, but I couldn't afford any more. Heck, you only get a couple of bucks a day for lunch. When you're using half of it to get a peanut butter sandwich, it would take me a month to get a bottle of Test.
When I was a senior in High School I actually hooked up with a doctor who prescribed Halotestin for me. I thought that was great! Looking back, how unethical was this doctor? Halotestin! And he never even checked with my parents. You'd walk in there, give the guy money, and he'd fork over the prescription.
Back then, you didn't have any money, so you'd buy 7 tabs and go back the next week.
T-Nation: Did your parents notice what was happening to you, strength-wise, appearance wise?
SL: Well, there was this time in High School when I got caught. My mom found my shit. I come home from school and it's all laid out on my bed--on my bed there's a bag of pot, a fuckin' Penthouse, D-bol tabs, some Test, Anadrol....
T-Nation: Jesus, that's the Triple Crown of every mother's fears!
SL: Oh yeah, everything! I had it in a tackle box in my closet. I told her it was for a friend, and all this kind of bullshit, and she pulled the ol' mom thing and said, "Well, I'm going to store it and keep it safe so when your friend decides that he wants it, we'll have it there."
So she shoved it all in our family safe.
It was fuckin' killin' me knowing that the stuff was in the bedroom safe! I can't count the number of times that I went in there and tried different combinations to get my shit out of there.
Then I told her we had to get the stuff out of the house because it was illegal and she was going to get busted. So she comes home and brings some pliers. I had to open the stuff and dump it down the toilet! Then the tabs came up and I threw them right beside the toilet, but it looked like I was throwing them in the toilet. Then I told her I had to take a dump and she left and I scooped up what I could.
So at least I got my tabs back, but that was pure hell.
T-Nation: It sounds like the drugs and the amounts of drugs you were using was relatively tame. When did you "graduate" to higher doses and more exotic drugs?
SL: When I got to college. I was suddenly around bodybuilders and I figured out something real fast – I was bringing a knife to a gunfight. So doses went up. I hooked up with this guy who used to travel around the country selling a bunch of shit. He was a supplier to one of my best friends, so the access I had to shit was unreal.
There was absolutely no food in the kitchen cabinet. One cabinet was all Winstrol and one was all Test – it was ridiculous. I basically had free shit. My job was just to sell some of the stuff to the college kids and count money. I'd be counting out like $200,000 to whoever the fuck it was going to. In exchange for that, I'd get like 10 bottles of Test.
During that phase, I was taking cycles of upwards of 4 grams a week. Every thing. No logic behind what I was doing at all. It was like, "Oh fuck, you got some Suspension? Let me dump it on top."
T-Nation: Were you taking any ancillaries to take care of any side effects?
SL: Oh fuck no. Here's the thing on that I still don't really understand today, I think certain people are predisposed to certain side effects. I never had a problem. I do remember my nipples would hurt once in awhile. You'd be in a bar and someone would brush against you and you'd want to rip their head off.
The problem I always had was if I had a couple of hundred extra bucks, I'm gonna buy Test! I'm not gonna' buy some shit to take at the end of my cycle. One time I tried to take hCG because I was told it would actually make you stronger, but that was a crock of shit, too.
I think that's what a majority of lifters do now. Very few that I know of would mess with any of that shit [anti-aromatases, Clomid, etc.] because it's just another 80 bucks they could spend on Test.
T-Nation: What other kinds of drugs were you using?
SL: I never used growth hormone back then, but one time I did try that monkey shit. It leaned me out like you wouldn't believe, but I couldn't find it anymore. Those were the Golden Days where you could find Rhesus Monkey Hormone, that blasterone that looked like snotty nosebleeds, and a whole bunch of crazy shit.
People make their own stuff now, but it wasn't like that crazy shit they were making back then. It was ridiculous. About half-way through college, it began to turn a bit because the prices started to go up, and that's where I started to get discouraged with the dealing aspect--that and every body I knew got busted. I was always one step away; it was always my guy being busted so I was always freaking out, thinking, "Where am I going to get my shit from if my source gets busted?"
And that's something I tell guys now: if you're going to sell stuff you might as well accept the notion that you're going to get caught.
Anyhow, when it got crazy in college, people would begin to show me dishonest things like how you could slip the needle underneath the metal tab of a bottle of Test and draw half the stuff out and put olive oil in without anyone being the wiser. I'm thinking it's $20 for a bottle of Test, and you're ripping the guy off for half of it. That guy probably did the same thing, and so did the guy he sold it to. Plus it's probably fake to begin with!
That's when I decided it was getting out of hand; way fucked up. And then I got back into powerlifting.
T-Nation: How did your drug regimen change once you got back into powerlifting?
SL: Well, I found this coach to work with, and he asked me what I was taking, I said, "Well how long do you fucking got?"
I told him, "Look, let me show you." I had a list of what I was taking that I'd give to an anesthesiologist when I'd been admitted to the hospital after tearing a pec. I told the doc what I was on, and I was on so much stuff, he refused to put me under.
Anyhow, in addition to taking about 4 grams a week of shit, I had used Cheque drops before the meet, along with methamphetamine – don't ask me why – and Valium the night before, along with some Percocet before the meet, everything; about 25 things all mixed together.
So I showed the coach the list I'd given the doc and he said, "You gotta' be fucking kidding me!"
I said "No, why? Is it not enough?"
I thought it was funnier than hell. But he told me that I didn't need to take more than 2 cc's of Test a week.
I said, "You're out of your fucking mind. I couldn't maintain my right forearm with that." But I did it. I got off the painkillers and uppers and the other stuff. Then when I did, and I was still making strength gains, it was like this big revelation.
Then I realized that for somebody training for strength, all they really need is Test and D-bol and that's it.
T-Nation: So in all this talk about dosages and drugs, I've yet to hear about being off drugs. What's the deal?
SL: I don't know if I advocate this or I don't, but I haven't been off shit for probably 10 years. I consistently stay on. My dose varies: I have an off-season dose and an in-season dose, but I won't go off.
T-Nation: What about tapering off, or just plain tapering?
SL: Who the fuck ever tapers off? I don't know anybody who does. If you have money left over that you could spend on a couple of bottles of Test, then fuckin' spend the money on the Test and take it.
If you're shut down, you're shut down. And if you taper down you're still shut down. Until you completely go off.
Look, my dose is regulated. If there's no meet and I'm just concerned with basic hypertrophy training, I'm not going to be consumed with taking a ton of shit. I'll base it on how I feel. I try to maintain about 90% of my strength in the off-season.
Right now I'm training for no reason, so I'm taking 1 1/2 Test and 1 1/2 Deca once a week, with a 15 mg Winstrol V tab and 4 units of GH a day and that's nothing, absolutely nothing.
There are times when I say, "Okay, I'm done, I'm going off," but I never really go off. I start taking something light like Winstrol or Equipose – there's no Test and no D-bol; nothing that exceeds about 500 mg.
When I start to feel my strength start to dip, I take 2 cc's of Test. That could happen once a month, or once every couple of weeks.
T-Nation: What happens when a meet's coming up?
SL: Twelve weeks out, I shift gears and jack up the Test. I know that Test and D-bol are going to be a staple. I'll start with about a 1,000 mg of Test a week, and then about the halfway point, I'll add about 4 D-bol a day.
My doctor has laid out this big elaborate cycle detailing how I should add Anavar and cycle my orals, and I'm rolling my fucking eyes! I said, "Where do you plan on me finding Anavar? It's not going to happen! Second, if my Test is working from week 12 to week 6, why would you want me to go off of it? To replace it with Sostanon? What if my Sostanon is fake? I will fucking kill you."
If it's working you need to stay on with what's working.
It's funny, people ask me all the time, "How much should I take?" I usually tell them, "Whatever you want to total, that's what you should take," But that's for guys that have lifting a while.
The problem is that most people read a book, and they think, "This is what I need to do." They don't need to do that. I've talked to people who take 1 cc a week and I say, "God why?" To me, if you've got a syringe, you fill the fucker up.
However, if you're a relative novice and you're getting stronger from week one to week two to week three, you stay on that minimum amount.
That's where bodybuilders get fucked up, because it's all about growth. If they stop growing, they say, "Fuck, I didn't gain. I need to double my dose."
T-Nation: So once you became a powerlifter again, you've pretty much stuck with fairly traditional steroids, nothing exotic?
SL: Well, I wouldn't exactly say that. At one point, we were using something called Heiferoid. It was called Synovox H, I think. It was a mix of propionates and estrogen for cows. And it would come in this big strip of pellets. Eight pellets was 200 mg, and this was when we couldn't find anything. So we'd buy this stuff – it was cheaper than hell.
It came with this big cattle gun, and you were supposed to shoot it behind your ear, and I'd look at this thing and say, "You know, I ain't doin' it."
We couldn't get anyone to take the pellets in the ass, so what we did, we'd take a soup spoon, turn on the stove, and we'd put two cc's of olive oil in the spoon and add 8 pellets. We'd cook it until it dissolved, and I can't remember the exact times, but it was down to a fuckin' science. As soon as it dissolved, you had to wait exactly 37 seconds or something after you pulled it off the stove to pull it into the syringe.
If you didn't wait 37 seconds, you'd melt the syringe. If you waited too long, it would start to coagulate again and you'd never get it through.
Once you got it in the syringe, you had to run it under cold water for 25 seconds. And then shoot the shit as fast as you could, because it would start to bind again. And it always did bind back up in your ass. And you'd get that shock syndrome because you were shooting this hot oil in your ass and you'd lose your breath.
Our heads got all big and bloated. We looked like the guy from The Family Guy. Sometimes, because the estrogen was so high, you'd get just huge bitch tits. One guy could even squeeze stuff out of his nipple.
We lived on this shit for about a year!
T-Nation: You make it sound like all powerlifters are on steroids.
SL: To be honest I think you'd be surprised. I would say the vast majority are drug free and lift in drug free federations. So I would say between 10-15% may take steroids, and that's probably a high estimate.
It's also hard to say how many out of the top 100 are on, but I'd say the majority of the top 100 in each weight class, but I've been proven wrong many times by lifters I thought were on who in reality were not.
And I know a lot of top 20 lifters who are lifetime drug free. These are the ones I really want to see go on some shit. I think they would do crazy stuff.
T-Nation: You can't tell me you haven't had some health problems from taking all this stuff, can you?
SL: Oh yeah. At one point, I was told I was going to die. If you plan on being a lifter – and weighing about 40 pounds more than you should, along with taking a lot of shit – then you have to be a little careful.
At one point, my hemoglobin was in stroke range. I was told my cholesterol was 900 something. My good cholesterol was like 2. I went in because I was feeling like shit, eating like shit, and doing all this other kind of stuff. And I wasn't doing anything different than I was doing the previous 15 years. I just think when you get a little older, at a certain point, everything catches up.
So, I changed my diet and changed a lot of things. Started using olive oil, fish oil, and everything came way back down. The cholesterol is under 200 now. Lean body mass went up.
So, in retrospect, nutrition is really important.
I also had some blood work and some fertility tests done, just in case I wanted to get hitched up and have kids, but the doc said, "There's no way you're going to be fertile." I said "What the fuck, I've been off three weeks!" and I tell you, it's the most miserable three weeks I've had.
I figured my sperm count would come up and I'd fucking freeze it for when I needed it so I could go back on. So I went off for 9 months, and I was even cycling hCG – 3 bottles a week – and my sperm count was at 1.5 million [50 million is average] and after 9 months, it went down. So at that point, I said screw it.
I think it's because I started so young. My body never went through the full maturing process. Even if I went off 4 or 5 years, it probably wouldn't come back up.
So now I have a prescription for Test and GH, which are legitimate. It's expensive as all hell. My Test costs me a $125 a bottle! I can buy it in a gym for $45.
T-Nation: So what do you tell kids who ask you if they should start using?
SL: I once heard Dave Tate say that taking steroids is like an Ace card. Everybody has a chance to play his Ace. If you need to play your Ace to be a high school football star, odds are you're not going to go onto college. If you have to play your Ace to win Mr. Wisconsin, you're not going to be Mr. Olympia...
T-Nation: But LS, you've been playing your ace for close to 30 years!
SL: I know! That's why I change my tune when I talk to powerlifters. I've seen these guys that have totaled 2100 pounds drug-free, and then they play their Ace card and Jesus Christ, they're the strongest guys in the world. Meanwhile, I'm thinking that how come it was so easy for you; I used my Ace card to bench 500.
Anyhow, that's the advice I throw out there. I don't really know what it's like to train clean. There was a stretch, an unfortunate stretch, where I did, but it's always a personal decision and I love the shit. I'm not going to lie to you.
But I've been through a lot of stuff with the shit. So how can I tell some kid, "Look man, don't do it," when I started the shit when I was 14 years old?
T-Nation: You've been using steroids pretty much non-stop for between 25 and 30 years. Do you plan on using for the rest of your life?
SL: Yes. I will use shit for the rest of my life. Probably the doses I'm using now.
I don't know why everyone doesn't use it. I don't get it. Outside of the fertility issue, I have not seen the side effects people speak about, in any of the thousands of people I know who use or who have used. I've seen some weak character people who use it as an excuse to be an asshole – you know the 'roid rage or whatever – but the people with the 'roid rage are dickheads to begin with.
There are more side effects from fuckin' alcohol, and the people who criticize anybody who's taking stuff, they're doing worse things.
I've always said, the only reason I train is so l can take shit. Why else work out? If you want to get healthy, go ride a fuckin' bike.
Before you pull out your poison pens, let me tell you that SL appears to be exceptionally bright and from what I understand, he has a stellar reputation in the powerlifting world.
Granted, just reading about his use/abuse of steroids is enough to give you back acne, but despite all the tsk-tsks you might throw his way, he's pulled it off. He's strong, apparently healthy, and he has no regrets.