by Christian Duque
News of legendary bodybuilder Sergio Oliva being arrested in Dubai sent shockwaves throughout the sport of bodybuilding. Some people thought that his arrest was nothing more than a baseless rumor. Who can ignore the non stop fake Stallone death rumors or the constant rumors of band reunions, movie sequels, or the ever-comical new theories for the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa’s remains.
For many of us who are always reading and watching stuff online our radar is pretty sharp. A great many people thought the Sergio arrest rumors were nothing more than clickbait. And I could see where a lot of people dismiss this as such because the contest season has just barely started with the 2023 Arnold Classic and only a small handful of small shows have taken place.
The sport is still very much in hibernation mode and there’s not a lot going on. This is precisely the time when if there’s no news to report, some simply make it up. I mean why on Earth would one of the greatest bodybuilders on the planet somehow find himself arrested – and in Dubai of all paces? That’s a country where people go to jetset, strike business deals, and enjoy life. It’s not a place where people get themselves in trouble. Plus Sergio is one of the most respected members of the bodybuilding community. Wherever he goes, the poor guy gets mobbed by screaming fans wanting autographs, selfies, and to ask him how he’s been able to build such a jaw dropping and flawlessly aesthetic physique.Moreover, this is a lighthearted guy who likes to laugh and who treats the fans with tremendous respect. He’s not the guy anyone would ever think would get jammed up with the law so I can totally understand why countless fans simply ignored this news.
The fans who didn’t ignore it, dug it in deeper. Once all the bodybuilding outlets got a hold of the story it became a feeding frenzy. Once the sites started reporting it became abundantly clear that an arrest or detainment had taken place, that Sergio was in custody, and that a death was involved. I actually had a few people draw ridiculous comparisons to Craig Titus.
While I would never out people on an article on Iron Magazine I was shocked that anyone would draw parallels so prematurely. They didn’t know anything – let alone the specifics – of whatever was going down in Dubai. Some of these people actually took to some message boards. Thankfully the very few isolated cases I was aware of were quickly handled by moderators. So yes, these folks do serve a very important purpose. While I have always been critical of forces that compromise the ability of people to express themselves freely, people who start writing silly posts comparing a guy like Sergio to what a guy like Craig was convicted of, really turn my stomach.
Some censorship is in line when dealing with individuals who literally can’t help themselves. They see a news story and they just lose control. They let their imagination run wild and they have diarrhea of the mouth. They spout all sorts of nonsense and when everything turns out to be wrong they figure they can delete the thread or brush any culpability off their shoulders. That just is not how it works.
Drama online has a tendency to snowball so the fact that Sergio, personally, decided to address the bodybuilding world and explain the case facts was key.
What happened was Sergio was struck by a courier in traffic, upon hitting his vehicle, the courier seemingly lost control and fell off his bike. He was then struck and killed by a truck. Sergio was not to blame for any of it, but because a death was involved, it seems he was briefly detained while the authorities in Dubai could conclude their investigation. There was no talk of foul play, there were no complaints of poor treatment. This was a routine stop and routine investigation. Sergio understood the need to allow law enforcement to do their job and the need to allow them to do their due diligence.
White the death of any person is a tragedy it seems this was all an accident. Nothing I have read suggests the truck driver who fatally struck the courier was at fault either. We of course mourn the courier and send out our condolences to his family and friends; that said, it’s important that Sergio addressed the story as opposed to letting the media run with it. Or else who knows where we’d be in terms of what really happened today?
The message boards have come a long way, too. While I’m sure there’s still a certain level of madness that takes place on Get Big and boards of the like, gone are the days of total reckless abandon. Moderators and Admins are a heck of a lot more proactive than in yesteryear and from what I’ve heard the infamous Misc doesn’t even exist anymore. That one last one was probably the most chaotic of all because that was a self-contained universe. Those guys didn’t watch mainstream news, let alone the bodybuilding press, so even if RX or MD debunked all the rumors as such, those guys wouldn’t hear about it for weeks or months later. And even when they did, it would likely go in one ear and out the other. They didn’t take Dave or Ron seriously. They only chose to live in their own crazy niche. Even back in those days, though, had the person at the center of the controversy addressed the interwebs that would have counteracted much of the disinformation.
A big part of why this story didn’t spiral out of control is because of Sergio’s keen understanding of how social media works. Whereas some guys would have declined to comment and hoped the story died down on its own, Sergio knew better. He knew that if he wanted the record set straight, he’d have to do it himself. And once he did so, the media outlets followed in suit.
They all wanted to be the first to “break the story” and/or be the first to relay the real story to the public. That’s a whole other kind of feeding frenzy but at least this one gets the truth out. The media just wants something to report especially during this very boring time. Although the Arnold has taken place and a handful of contests have already been held, the sport of bodybuilding is still in a lull. Had this story taken place in May, June, or July, it may not have been one-tenth the story it was in March. Nonetheless, kudos to Sergio for setting the record straight.
While I love the boards, the sub reddits, and the groups, I have to admit that hardly anything I read there I take seriously. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded, but to me it’s all just entertainment. Anyone who goes to the message boards to get their news has real problems. Lol