“This sport is not worth dying for”

Ronnie Coleman recently addressed death in bodybuilding and reflected on one of his own experiences.

Ronnie Coleman is one of the best bodybuilders to ever take the stage and his resume backs it up. Coleman is an eight-time Olympia champion, who is tied for most all-time with Lee Haney. To this day, Coleman remains an influential voice in bodybuilding due to his knowledge of the sport. Coleman recently discussed recent deaths in bodybuilding and reflected on one of his own experiences.

Coleman joined Bradley Martyn to discuss recent events around bodybuilding. Sadly, there have been a series of deaths that have hit the world hard. Shawn Rhodes and George Peterson died last year. Recently, Cedric McMillan sudden death and it shifted the conversations more towards bodybuilding-related health issues.

Ronnie Coleman knows a thing or two about preparing for shows and what it takes to be the best in the world. In his time, there weren’t as many deaths and that’s because there were tests for substances such as diuretics.

“It’s a bit difficult, you know when I was coming up we had a guy who died and they started doing drug tests on every show. He died of diuretics of course, you know. So they started testing diuretics on every show, and no one died or nothing, until they stopped. I’ll never forget when they stopped. He died in 1996 I believe. (Mohammed ) Benaziza, he died on the European Tour. I know I wasn’t there, I wasn’t Mr. Olympia back then. They tested the drug on every show after that in the IFBB.

Following the death, Ronnie Coleman explained that the IFBB had started testing deer diuretics and there hadn’t been many deaths in the sport. It changed once cutler jay threatened to sue the league after testing positive. Coleman explained that Cutler banned the tests.

“When Jay failed the test, they, because Jay told them he was going to sue them. They were like, okay, well, we’re not going to continue testing, and you also have the option of keep your prize money. We’re just going to remove testing. Jay changed that. They didn’t test after that.

Ronnie Coleman and the Olympia 2001

Ronnie Coleman knows the dangers of diuretics first hand and it was at his worst in 2001. This was the season when Coleman became the first contestant to win the Arnold Classic and the Olympia in the same year. Despite its success, victory at Olympia almost did not happen.

Coleman reflects on waking up the morning of the Olympia competition feeling extremely dehydrated and wanting to go to the hospital.

“When you start dying, this sport isn’t worth dying for. Ronnie laughs. Not at all. I remember 2001, I’ll never forget it like it was yesterday. I woke up the morning of the Olympia and I felt terrible. I was totally dehydrated, you know, you have to be a little dehydrated to get on stage,” Coleman explained.

But this morning, I felt very bad, I felt really bad. I was at the point where I felt like I was dying. It scared me. I called my nutritionist and told him, man, I feel bad. Forget this show, I’m going to the hospital. I will not die for this sport. I’m going to the hospital.

Ronnie Coleman was able to hydrate enough to take the stage and defeated Cutler to continue his Olympic streak. It opened Coleman’s eyes and he didn’t want this problem to happen again.

Many have discussed how to improve bodybuilding health. Since McMillan’s passing, competitors and lifters have been going for checkups to make sure their health is in good standing. This is a growing problem and it will be interesting to see how it is handled in the future.

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Teresa E. Burton