Working out and lifting weights have many well documented benefits, but some don’t stop at the level of a healthy body. For example, look at these ten almost grotesque men and women who have pushed the boundaries of safety and sanity with synthol injections or steroids to create the body of their dreams. However, their massive muscle and fearsome physique can come at a life-threatening cost.
Arlindo de Souza
This 45 year old bodybuilder resides with his aging mother in Olinda, Brazil. Called “the real-life Popeye” because of his 29-inch biceps, Arlindo is proud of his physique, though he freely admits that his massive muscles exist due to fakery. Like all too many Brazilian bodybuilders, de Souza injects a volatile mixture of alcohol and oil directly into his muscles. This controversial practice can have deadly consequences though, as his close friend Paulinho discovered when his regular injections resulted in his own death. Arlindo is well aware of the risk he took with these injections, and he cautions others not to make the same mistake.
An Austrian toolmaker by trade, Munzer started bodybuilding because of his two-hour wait for the bus home after work every day. Andreas passed the time working out at the gym diligently, and he did eventually go on to have some success in professional bodybuilding competitions, though he found himself hitting a wall that kept him from ranking higher after a while. To boost his competitive edge, Munzer started dosing on an incredibly dangerous cocktail of drugs that included steroids, testosterone, insulin, and growth hormones. At his final competition in Columbus, Ohio, Munzer came in sixth place and walked away with a check for $5,000 on March 2nd, 1996. Eleven days later, Munzer was admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pain. Doctors attempted to save his life with an emergency operation, but the damage was already done. Andreas’ autopsy revealed that his liver had nearly disappeared due to his use of performance enhancing substances.
Best known as the subject of the 2006 documentary The Man Whose Arms Exploded, Valentino started bodybuilding in 1972. At age 36, he began to try to increase his muscle development by abusing steroids. Naturally, this dangerous practice didn’t work out so well for Gregg. Thanks to using dirty hypodermic needles when using steroids, Valentino developed an infection in his bicep. He attempted to treat the condition himself by draining his arm with a syringe, but he ended up hospitalized for emergency surgery anyway. Gregg was later arrested for illegally selling steroids, losing his business and his wife. Valentino has since sworn off steroids altogether.
When you see 48-year-old Valdir Segato, you would never guess that he was once a skinny little kid growing up on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. To make matters worse, he developed a recreational drug habit as a teenager that made him even thinner. He was so emaciated at one point that his friends began to call him “Skinny Dog” and “Little Skull”. It was then that Segato decided to make a change that would alter the course of the rest of his life. He started hitting the gym hard every day, but he didn’t just work out to bulk up. Segato began injecting performance enhancing drugs, even overdosing on anabolic steroids at one point and landing in the hospital. He has since moved from steroids to synthol, which bodybuilders inject into their muscles in order to make them swell to greater size. Segato’s muscles are now massive, but grotesque in appearance. Despite numerous physicians warnings, Segato also intends to continue to increase his muscle mass even though he is aware that he is putting his life and his health at risk.
Once a barmaid in London, Candice extensive abuse of steroids very nearly resulted in her transformation from a “her” into a “him”. Her bodybuilding started out simply enough when she started taking pole dancing and working out at a local gym. When she got ahold of steroids online though, her bodybuilding began to take on rather different tone. Armstrong now sports facial hair, her voice has deepened significantly, and she no longer has a menstrual cycle, and her clitoris has become enlarged to the point that is has been described as resembling a small penis. Armstrong, conversely, couldn’t be happier. Bodybuilding has helped her gain a confidence and happiness about her personal development even though her body has undergone radical changes.
Romario Dos Santos Alves
When this 26-year-old Brazilian moved to a new city in 2012, he decided to go to a local gym to make friends. He was awestruck by the massive size of the bodybuilders there, so he chatted them up. These bodybuilders introduced him to synthol, and while he got the results he wanted from it, his synthol use quickly got out of hand. Romario’s health began to deteriorate rapidly, and doctors told him that it was likely they would have to amputate both his arms in order to save his life. His muscles had hardened dangerously to a rock like consistency, cutting off blood flow and causing widespread infections. Fortunately, his doctors were able to help him recover without the need for amputation, but it was a very close call. Dos Santos Alves has since quit using synthol, though he said the temptation is still there despite his brush with death.
A former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Sally became a professional bodybuilder when she re-entered civilian life. Both she and her bodybuilder husband Ray abused steroids in order to achieve their ideal physique.To make a living in her post-military life, Sally began to take on paid wrestling matches against male opponents, calling herself “Killer McNeil”, a moniker that turend out to be a dark foreshadowing of her future. It all happened on Valentine's Day, 1995. Sally and Ray were arguing heatedly. Sally grabbed a shotgun from the closet and shot her husband twice: once in the face, and once in the abdomen. Ray died of his wounds at the hospital, and Sally was convicted and sentenced to 19 years Blood work from both Ray and Sally showed that they were taking steroids at the time, and most experts agreed that “roid rage” played a role in this tragedy.
When English bodybuilder Dean Wharmby was diagnosed with liver cancer, he placed the blame for his condition on the 10,000-calorie per day diet. Wharmby went on to say that energy drinks and contaminated red meat may have also played a part in his diseased liver. After his death in July 2015 though, Dean’s autopsy revealed the more likely cause. According to coroner Lisa Hashmi, the most likely cause of Wharmby’s liver cancer that resulted in his untimely death was most likely due to the abuse of anabolic steroids. It would seem that Dean’s demise was the price of his lifelong quest for the perfect body.
A 7’ 2”, 280 pound teenage bodybuilder, Gajdos worked out twice daily in order to keep himself in peak condition. Unfortunately, despite his frequent workouts, this teen decided to take the shortcut that has seduced many bodybuilders: he took steroids. The Slovakian-born teen who resided in England died suddenly at the age of 19 due to a ruptured aorta. His autopsy showed that he did indeed have steroids in his system, although the role they played in his death is unknown. However, medical experts agree that a ruptured aorta is an extremely rare fatal injury to occur in an otherwise healthy teenager.
Before his death in September 2013, Cooney had already suffered a heart attack and three strokes before a final heart attack claimed his life. Even after the first attacks, Cooney never stopped working out despite his doctor's warnings of what could happen. He stopped using steroids after his first heart attack, but the damage to his body was already done, and sadly his final cardiac arrest was caused by steroid abuse. Hailing from West Yorkshire in England, Oli had been bodybuilding since ae 16, and was a mere 20 years-old when he passed away, a tragic cautionary tale of the very real dangers of steroid abuse.