By Joe Pietaro, MuscleSport Mag
The following article will appear in the October 2008 issue of New York Sportscene magazine. (www.nysportscene.com)
At Armâ€™s Length
Gregg Valentino Flexes his Opinion About Steroids
The old saying â€œDonâ€™t throw stones in a glass house,â€ doesnâ€™t apply to Gregg Valentino. When he talks about anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, people listen. Itâ€™s sort of like that old Payne Webber television commercial. You see, Valentino has no problem admitting to steroid use that would probably eclipse every baseball clubhouse in the late 1990s.
â€œI was up to 4,000 milligrams of testosterone a week, and thatâ€™s not even counting the equipoise,â€ he said, not bragging but just being truthful. When you inject such high quantities of juice in your body, it should come as no surprise that Valentino laid claim to having the largest biceps in the world. At one point during the height of his usage, his arms were an astronomical 28 inches.
Standing 5â€™6â€, Valentino bulked up to over 250 pounds and not only was using steroids, but selling them, as well. His life changed in 2001 when he was arrested and sent to prison, and his name, face and arms were splattered all over the evening news programs.
Having been involved in bodybuilding his entire life, Valentino, 48, is the closest you can call an â€œauthorityâ€ on the subject that there is. He trained and competed naturally for over 25 years before dabbling into steroids, and had 21-inch arms before using. So he can speak from both sides â€“ the natural and enhanced athlete.
â€œPeople think that because you do steroids, youâ€™ll be able to hit the ball out of the park,â€ Valentino said. â€œIf that was the case, they could take bodybuilders and they would all be hitting monster home runs. But thatâ€™s not going to happen.
â€œI believe that steroids are the closest thing to the fountain of youth that youâ€™re going to find. (Mark) McGwire, (Sammy) Sosa and (Barry) Bonds â€“ all the poster boys for steroids in baseball. They all started (allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs) when they were older,â€ continued Valentino. â€œIf you noticed, none of these guys started when they were 21. They started out because of an injury. Their bodies are beginning to break down and theyâ€™re looking for something to stop that.â€
Making references to baseball players that have used the so-called â€˜recreationalâ€™ drugs and been forgiven and embraced by not only the fans, but the game itself, Valentino takes exception to that, and has a valid point in doing so.
â€œThey applaud Darryl Strawberry and Josh Hamilton,â€ he said. â€œThese guys did crack, went to rehab. This guy (Hamilton) robbed his own family. Then they boo a guy like Jason Giambi because he did steroids. He admitted it and apologized. To me, heâ€™s more of a hero than the guy robbing his own grandmother.
â€œYouâ€™re going to applaud that and say itâ€™s okay? But itâ€™s not okay to do steroids? Theyâ€™re a performance-enhancer. Those other drugs are a performance destroyer.â€
Regarding baseballâ€™s approach to making the issue of steroids as publicized as it did, Valentino feels that a different approach would have been better. â€œThey should have dealt with it in-house instead of going to the newspapers and getting congress involved,â€ he said. â€œThey should have done what football does. Clean your own laundry.â€
On the subject of â€˜Americaâ€™s Game,â€™ Valentino feels that pro football players are bigger users of PEDs than baseball players. â€œYou have guys weighing 250 pounds running the 40-yard dash at 4.4, yet football doesnâ€™t have the reputation of being an abused sport,â€ he said.
Asking himself a series of questions with obvious answers, Valentino said, â€œHas the human being evolved so much since 1980? No. Is it because guys are lifting a lot of weight and taking supplements? No. Hereâ€™s the thing â€“ they do in-house work. They give them advance notice for their (drug screening) tests. They donâ€™t want to hurt the game.
â€œThey (National Football League) knows what the players are doing,â€ Valentino added. â€œThey tell them, â€˜youâ€™re going to get drug tested, just get tested clean.â€™ Very few guys fail. You know who fails? Idiots. Even when you fail, they look at you and are like, â€˜I told you that you were going to get tested. Whatâ€™s the matter with you?â€™â€
Following his release from prison, Valentino had to participate in an after-care drug program, which included mandatory drug testing. â€œYou knew when you were going to get tested. If you failed, you deserved what you got.â€ Valentino has not used steroids since his arrest, and is proud of the fact that he has never used any other drugs, alcohol or tobacco his entire life.
Touching on the Mitchell Report, Valentino speaks from personal experience when he says, â€œYou never buy steroids with a check.â€ The â€˜starâ€™ witnesses in the investigation, Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski, played the part of small-time steroid dealers to Valentino, who was considered a high-end wholesale dealer. â€œThey would go to guys like me and get stuff and then hit the players over the head with it,â€ he said. â€œThey would get a bottle from us for $40 or $50 and sell it (to the players) for hundreds.â€
Like him or not, Valentino definitely pulls no punches. Heâ€™s been called the â€˜Most Hated Man in Bodybuilding,â€ and has persevered as a columnist in â€˜Muscular Developmentâ€™ magazine, becoming the most-read in the industry.
So, if you disagree with what he has to say, thatâ€™s fine. But there are not many people that can compare â€˜been there, done thatâ€™ with Valentino. Especially when it comes to steroids.