Sunday, December 26, 2004

Deadly consequences

Click here for AmazonThese [bodybuilders] were Schwarzenegger’s heirs, modern behemoths who had been inspired by the movie Pumping Iron, which was distributed in 1977 and made bodybuilding briefly glamorous. They existed in a hermetically-sealed sport in which they exhibited themselves to other people interested in bodybuilding while the rest of the world ignored them...

...Even the tiny few blessed with genetics that let them respond to the training, diet and drugs like almost no-one else alive found that the damage could be incremental, progressive and unpredictable.

Andreas Munzer was from Pack, a village in Styria a few miles from where Schwarzenegger had grown up in Austria. He died in 1996, 12 days after finishing sixth in the Arnold Classic, the Terminator’s own tournament. Andi’s body had suffered a catastrophic shutdown brought on by the use of steroids and diuretics. His liver had melted, his heart had failed.

Mohamed Benaziza perished in 1992, suffering a heart attack on the European tour after abusing the diuretics Lasix and Aldactone. Mike Matarazzo collapsed at the Arnold Classic in 1993, but recovered after prompt treatment [DR: Matarazzo has since undergone a triple bypass]. Paul Dillett "froze" on stage at the Arnold in 1994, too dehydrated to move.

Steve Michalik, a former Mr America, narrowly survived his preparation for a contest called Night Of Champions in 1986. He had cysts in his liver the size of golf balls.

The Mentzer twins, Mike and Ray, died within a day of each other in strange circumstances.

Bodybuilding remains extreme.

By the time we reached Las Vegas for the Mr Olympia show of 2003, the extremity of it was apparent, but I did not really care. Bodybuilders were wildly-interesting characters, unlike the usual monosyllabic modern sportsmen. They lived lives that were hard and obsessive, that pushed them towards their limits; they were as determined and driven as any competitors I had met....

The Scotsman: Muscling in on exotic universe can build up to deadly consequences

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