Will the Bodybuilding Industry Change with the Recent Deaths?

by Matt Weik

The last couple of years have been rough for the bodybuilding industry. We lost some amazing individuals who helped shape the industry and make it a better place. People who brought intelligence, compassion, energy, motivation, and joy to the bodybuilding industry. While we will all die at some point (sorry for being so blunt), we are seeing many bodybuilders dying way too soon.

When you look at the bodybuilding industry, it’s sort of a taboo industry. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and act like the sport is clean and that these athletes are drug-free or natty because they aren’t. To get to the highest level of bodybuilding in the IFBB and place well, you need to be utilizing various drugs — many of which are illegal.

Again, you can point the finger at me for bringing this up, but I’m only stating what is clearly the truth and nothing new that others don’t know or assume.

But with all the recent deaths in the bodybuilding industry, will we see a change? Will bodybuilders start to back off? Will the IFBB step in? Will the judging change and ease up slightly? There are a lot of unanswered questions, yet we know one thing… something needs to change.

Bodybuilding Industry Deaths and Retirement

With the recent sudden deaths in the bodybuilding industry, we have seen quite a few bodybuilders wave goodbye to the stage and hang up their posing trunks for good. Is it because their time has passed, and they are no longer able to compete at the highest level? Heck no.

Many of these bodybuilders have several good years left in the tank before they’d ever need to think about Father Time tapping them on the shoulder and giving them the look that it’s time to step away.

So, why are so many bodybuilders retiring? Quite frankly, they are looking at the big picture. When their friends and fellow competitors are dropping dead around them, it makes you look at things a little differently. What if it was me? Could I be next? There are a lot of things going through their head.

Is There Too Much Pressure to Show Up Completely Shredded?

Let’s face it, there is no “try” in the bodybuilding industry. You either give it your all and win at all cost, or you don’t compete at all. This mentality is causing many issues in the sport, such as experimenting with new drugs. Trying new things to completely dry out and push out every last bit of water they’re holding onto. The thought that if your glutes aren’t shredded, you’re not in shape. The prescription diuretic use. The various protocols that are implemented into a prep (especially the final week). The last-minute ditch effort to make improvements in a matter of hours to enhance your physique from pre-judging to the night show. There are so many things that are going on during prep and at the show that many competitors are rolling the dice.

What Could Be the Cause of These Deaths?

There is much talk upon someone’s passing and many questions about what happened, how someone passed, were there warning signs, what the cause was, etc. Sometimes these questions are answered, other times, they aren’t.

For the most part, many of the things we are reading about lately deal with heart issues. It could be from previous problems with their heart, a sudden heart attack, or a combination of both.

Other issues seem to be coming from a competitor’s prep. More specifically, almost immediately before a competition. This would lead you to believe it was a potential diuretic issue where there was a hydration and electrolyte imbalance that caused a deadly reaction.

Something else to consider, and I’m sure I’m going to be called a conspiracy theorist for it, would be the pandemic and vaccines. There’s an alarming number of athletes (not just in the bodybuilding industry) that are randomly having heart issues and dying, and a commonality they share is that they are vaccinated. Coincidence? I’m not sure. All I know is that we have elite athletes to focus on their health and fitness who are tragically dying all of a sudden without any symptoms or indications that anything was wrong.

All these causes lead us to our final question and section…

Should You Blame the Athlete, Coach, or Both?

This is actually a great question. Where does the liability fall? I guess there really isn’t a right or wrong answer here as it can be left up to interpretation based on the circumstance. What do I mean?

If an athlete is taking something that they know is illegal and that can do them harm or cause death, it’s hard to blame anyone else as they knew the consequences. They willingly put whatever it was into their body or followed a certain protocol that was provided to them.

Now, flipping the script. If a coach gives an athlete in the bodybuilding industry something without telling the athlete what it is and the potential side effects, the blame should shift onto the coach.

Overall, both the coach and the athlete could share the blame. If the coach is providing something to a bodybuilder and that bodybuilder knows what it is and the potential side effects, they share the blame. The bodybuilder is to blame for taking it or following the advice and the coach is also to blame for supplying the drug or protocol to the bodybuilder.

Regardless, I really feel that something needs to change. This industry started out as a means to get people interested in health and fitness, and it has shifted into an industry filled with illegal drug use in an attempt to get as big as possible, regardless of the side effects.

How can we accomplish this and save the bodybuilding industry? That’s a good question. Drug testing wouldn’t work as it would completely change the sport. Maybe the IFBB should step up and make every athlete get a physical or health screening when they renew their IFBB pro card each year? But something needs to change to pay more attention to the health of the athletes in the bodybuilding industry.