THE bodybuilding community was still reeling from the March death of icon Andy Haman at the age of just 54 when a second star died this weekend.
John Meadows passed away on Sunday from a reported blood clot 18 months after he suffered a heart attack.
Now, attention is turning to the bodybuilding business, the life of its stars, and the toll the quest to look “perfect” places on their bodies.
With their bulging muscles and toned physique, many could be forgiven for thinking the athletes’ bodies are in good health.
But as late bodybuilder Rich Piana admitted in 2016 the use of steroids – which he says is widespread and almost inevitable for professionals – “hurts your body.”
Piana, who died in 2017 two weeks after being placed in an induced coma, said in 2016: “If you have the choice to stay natural or do steroids, stay natural.
“There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself.”
But he admitted: “If you want to become a professional bodybuilder, guess what? You’re probably going to have to f***ing do them. You’re not going to have a choice.”
HISTORY OF DRUG USE
An autopsy obtained by Men’s Health said the coroner noted “significant” heart disease in Piana and a history of drug use.
Police later revealed they found bottles of testosterone and white powder in the house and his girlfriend Chanel admitted to responders that he had been juicing for more than 20 years.
Following Meadows’ death this weekend fans speculated his passing may have been related to a heart attack the bodybuilder suffered early last year following a career that spanned 30 years.
Just months earlier bodybuilding icon Haman died at the age of 54.
The star, known as “Mr Incredible”, who died in March, is said to have suffered complications from elbow joint surgery, his wife Michelle said.
She added: “The Doctors believe it was a massive blood clot to his heart, lungs or brain.”
Last month female bodybuilder Odalis Santos Mena, 23, suffered cardiac arrest and died following a botched operation to stop her excess underarm sweat.
Coroners pointed to a lethal combination of the steroid Mena was taking and the anaesthetic, The New York Post reports.
And it is not just well-established stars who succumb to the pressure.
In 2017 a young British bodybuilder died after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs he bought on the dark web.
Robbie Ryder, 20, was found collapsed at his home in Hull just hours after opening a package containing items he had bought illegally online, an inquest heard.
Mr England runner-up Ben Harnett, 37, died in 2019 after taking steroids before a bodybuilding event.
He had been married less than a year and had a five-month-old baby girl when he was discovered dead.
‘MY BODY FIGHTS ME’
Coroner Eric Armstrong said: “He was proud of his body, but became ‘overproud’ and in attempting to make the most of his body, began to use steroids.
“I sincerely hope that if nothing else, Ben’s death reverberates around the bodybuilding world and people realize the risks they are taking.
“This is the loss of a life that shouldn’t have happened.”
Dad Ben Snr added: “Some people like having a drink. For Ben, he enjoyed the gym. It was his life.”
Shortly before his death, Piana spoke about his body’s “fight” against being 300 pounds.
He said: “My body fights me the whole way, my body does not want to be 300 pounds.
“Whether it’s muscle or fat, the heart doesn’t know the difference. I definitely suggest people not be big bodybuilders.”