A Korean bodybuilder describes how years of steroid use messed up his body

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/06/13/a-korean-bodybuilder-describes.html


The emphasis on winning at all costs is so high in sports that young athletes will do this to themselves as long as it helps them in the next competition. The only way to prevent it is a system that makes it impossible to take steroids and still compete.

For me the Ken Caminiti confessions about his steroid use struck me such that I remembered it 17 years later:

he used steroids so heavily in '96 that by the end of that season, his testicles shrank and retracted; doctors found that his body had virtually stopped producing its own testosterone and that his level of the hormone had fallen to 20% of normal. “It took four months to get my nuts to drop on their own,” he said

He followed that with “I’ve made a ton of mistakes, I don’t think using steroids is one of them.” Explaining that whatever worked was worth it.


Finally got an explanation for those rotund stomachs you see on some bodybuilders, not fat, but just a rounder shape covered by muscle. Fucked up.


I love his honesty and forthrightness. I can’t speak to the Korean cultural milieu, but in the US that would be a very brave person. I also dig the thoughtfulness about the motivations for athletes to hit the juice, and to talk about it or not.


Here is another Asian boss interview with the 2018 Miss Korea winner.
Seems like it might be a sensible pairing with the featured video.

Fair warning: It brought be to tears at one point in the interview.


The only way to prevent it is a system that makes it impossible to take steroids and still compete.

Nobody wants that.

You could argue that driving at 200+ mph is dangerous and so Formula One should be limited to 55 mph. Nobody wants that either.

But there are still rules in Formula One. I’m sure there are certain kinds of fuel or configurations of engine that are out of bounds for various reasons, safety among them. I would actually be interested, in a dystopian way, in there being a completely transparent chemical Olympics where the point was to stretch the latest and greatest drugs to the breaking point to see what an augmented body can do. But having a shadowy, de facto rule that you have to destroy your body to compete, especially when athletes are so often used as symbols of health, is a bummer.


You could argue that any sport that endangers the lives of people for the entertainment of other people is stupid and barbaric. But some people apparently want that.

“Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports—all others are games.” –Ernest Hemmingway Not Hemmingway. (How disappointing.)

I might venture that any sport that encourages people to devote significant portions of their lives to being just a little bit stronger or a little bit faster than some other fellow (who probably has some inherent genetic advantage anyway) is rather dubious.

“To Yossarian, the idea of pennants as prizes was absurd. No money went with them, no class privileges. Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else.” -Joseph Heller, Catch 22


Speak for yourself. I played baseball, basketball, and soccer for many years and am still a big fan of most team sports, and I want effective steroid prevention in sports.


I assume that the chem Olympics participants would just stack additional interventions until they reached the point of serious danger, or be outcompeted by those who did; but some of the doping would probably become safer in a situation where people aren’t taking a shifting blend of whatever exotics are still a step ahead of WADA tests or rules, under the guidance of peers and shadier sports doctors, without the benefit of data gathering on efficacy and side effects.

It’s typically true when they say that you can never change just one thing; but clandestine doping not only encourages excess; but abandonment of basically all the good advice for drug safety(no supply chain getting, drugs with enough of a track record to be well understood abandoned because they can be detected, limited expert guidance or oversight, post market surveillance effectively impossible).


The chemical olympics seems like a perfect fundraiser for a libertarian seastead.

I do agree that the problem with the status quo is that it is only halfway there. Everyone knows that bodybuilding competition is tainted. But since nobody can admit it until after they leave, it stays shady.

But, Synthol is still good, right?

Really? You really think that formula one, the premiere racing sport, would be so dumb as to limit the displacement of their engines to little dinky1.6 liter V6’s?

Go on then. Tells us another one.

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Excessive steroid use didn’t work out too well for Buff Korean Jesus either.


Why the subtitles? Both of them speak better than half the people I meet in San Francisco. Or Chicago. Or Boston.


I think that’s the thing right there. I mean anyone whose ever competed even halfway seriously in anything or read an even partially honest biography of an athlete in any sport will appreciate that most high level athletes spend most of their careers held together with tape and painkillers - no matter what the sport is.

And yet, we still flog them as these shining examples of human fitness and physical perfection.


Thank you. And you’re correct, that’s a good, albeit difficult, pairing.


Soccer actually has some interesting parallels. The evidence is pretty clear that heading the ball leads to CTE and many youth leagues have banned it from the game. If steroid use is to be banned because it’s harmful to competitors, then certainly the rules of soccer should evolve as well.

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I think AB might just always have subtitles up since you never know what accent a viewer might have difficulty hearing. But I’m not positive about that.

I think many sport fans are anti-steroid but do have unrealistic expectations for athletes to always go faster, harder, bigger than last year. Just because that doesn’t describe you doesn’t mean there isn’t a sizable group out there.

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