Sad Article on Flex Wheeler and steroids
- 01-22-2004, 10:03 PM
Sad Article on Flex Wheeler and steroids
Steroids' vicious circle
DRUGS PUMP UP BODYBUILDER, THEN DEFLATE HIM
By Mark Emmons
For 18 years, Flex Wheeler pumped anabolic steroids into a body that became so rippled with muscle that even he described himself as a comic-book character -- a guy with ridiculous round biceps, tiny waist and bulging legs.
To achieve that unworldly physique, he swallowed pills and he gave himself injections. He rarely thought twice about taking steroids because he was a bodybuilder and, well, this is just what they do. At least if they want to make the covers of magazines.
Today, at 38, Wheeler no longer is a champion bodybuilder. But he still takes steroids. Only now, as he recovers from a kidney transplant in September, the catabolic steroids he takes reduce his muscle size.
``It's really sad and ironic,'' said Wheeler, who lives in East San Jose with his wife and their two children. ``I've come to a point in my life where I don't want to take steroids anymore, yet I have to just to live.''
Wheeler said his kidney disease is hereditary. But he also believes his prolonged steroid use probably accelerated its onset. He also thinks the mind-altering effects of steroids -- mood swings with fits of aggression -- were far greater than any physical toll.
And he acknowledges the damage he inflicted upon his body with other ``sports technology drugs,'' including almost dying from overdoses of diuretics.
``Everybody talks about steroids because that's in the news now, but the reality is there are lots of dangerous things that athletes take,'' he said.
Wheeler hopes his story will serve as a cautionary tale for any athlete who seeks better performance through pharmacology, at a time when a federal investigation of Balco Laboratories in Burlingame has resulted in dozens of top athletes being questioned about performance-enhancing drugs. Taking such drugs, Wheeler said, is tantamount to playing Russian roulette.
But ask him what he took and how much, and Wheeler becomes purposely vague.
``I won't discuss that because I'm aware of the power of what I say,'' he said. ``I know kids will go out and try it anyway. I turned a lot of kids on to steroids because they wanted to be just like Flex. I'm not going to be responsible for that now.''
At his peak
In his recently published autobiography, ``Flex Ability,'' Wheeler writes uncompromisingly of a poor kid from Fresno with low self-esteem who was molested as a child, attempted suicide, fathered a daughter at 15 and was heading for a troubled life. Bodybuilding may not have saved Kenny ``Flex'' Wheeler, but the sport gave him direction.
He became, in the words of California's new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, ``one of the best bodybuilders of all time.'' When Wheeler was at his peak, only one competitor -- reigning king Ronnie Coleman -- was better.
But Wheeler wouldn't have developed his larger-than-life body without the help of steroids. He started at 18.
In his book, he discusses the transformation that left him feeling like a magician had waved a wand to give him the body of his dreams. He would stare at himself in the mirror, worried that those muscles in the reflection were someone else's.
Wheeler never felt as if he was doing anything wrong by taking steroids even though they are illegal except with a doctor's prescription. They simply were a necessity.
He even had a nickname at his job as a Fresno jail cop: Officer Steroids.
``Everyone I knew was doing steroids, and no one considered it a big deal,'' he wrote. ``I wasn't taking coke or crank or heroin; I wasn't hanging out in a dark alley doing drug deals.''
Taking a toll
Although he estimates that the cost of enough steroids to prepare for one show is $10,000, he rarely had to pay because he was a star. But there was a different cost -- although Wheeler didn't fully understand that until he stopped taking them.
``You're super aggressive,'' he said. ``You've got a game face for training all day. Unfortunately there's not a switch that you can turn on and off. So if somebody gets in your face, you're going to attack them the way you attack your training. You don't have that much control over it. You get irritated and agitated very easily.''
Competitors in the sport knew, and usually accepted, the physical risks as well.
``One cat told me, `Man, if I was to win a national show and then die right there in the middle of a pose, that would be the happiest day of my life,' '' Wheeler said. ``And he wasn't joking. That was whack. Yet I was a hypocrite because I was willing to cut a few years off my life. That wouldn't have bothered me, which is sad.''
`Caught up in a game'
On several occasions, he ended up in a hospital in excruciating pain after taking too much diuretics, which drain fluid from the body and make bodybuilder's muscles look more pronounced during competition.
Doctors warned him that he was putting his life in jeopardy. By 1997, as his problems with diuretics continued, he wanted to quit taking all drugs. But he didn't.
``I was caught between a rock and a hard place,'' Wheeler said. ``When you stop taking drugs, you can't be competitive and you can't make any money and you're finished. I got caught up in a game.''
But the clock was ticking. In 2000, he was diagnosed with a kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS -- a condition that occurs more frequently in African-American males.
He decided to compete as a clean, or drug-free, athlete.
Help from Conte
Wheeler said he was helped by a friend -- Victor Conte Jr., the Burlingame nutritionist who is currently a target of a federal grand jury probe. Conte also has been accused by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as the source of a new designer steroid, THG. But Wheeler said Conte helped him to compete without steroids by providing him mineral supplements.
Still, Wheeler became the incredible shrinking bodybuilder. At the Mr. Olympia competition -- perhaps the best-known bodybuilding show -- Wheeler had finished second in 1998 and '99 and third in 2000. But in 2002, after training without steroids, he finished seventh. He weighed 212 pounds, down from 240 at previous competitions.
``When I was on drugs, I was completely energized when I'd train,'' Wheeler said. ``But when I was natural, I'd train for two hours, be exhausted and then still have no results. I would think, `I don't believe. How do people do this?' ''
Facing financial problems that would lead to filing for bankruptcy, Wheeler went back on steroids. He hoped for a big payday that would solve his money woes and then he could walk away for good.
But he regretted going back on the juice and quit after just one more show.
Meanwhile, his kidney condition worsened, requiring a transplant. He feels blessed that a donor from his church was a match.
Kidney failure and tumors are one of the potential side effects of performance-enhancing drug use, said Dr. Linn Goldberg, a steroids expert at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
``But no one has ever studied steroid use at the level these guys take,'' Goldberg added. ``Bodybuilders are changing their hormonal level to points that cannot occur naturally, so you're going to profoundly affect every organ in the body. More than likely, his case is probably related in some way to substances he was taking.''
Wheeler agrees only that steroids made his kidneys more susceptible to a disease that probably would have taken hold in his 40s. Wheeler said his high-protein diet and ingestion of large doses of potassium may have played just as large a role as steroid use. Yet he also knows that some will think he's kidding himself that steroids aren't a more direct cause.
``A lot of people think it's due to sports technology drugs,'' he said. ``But people are going to believe what they want to believe.''
However, he also talks about the dangers of those drugs. Users, he said, are deluding themselves if they think there's no risk.
``There's no way you could be at my level and not have bad things happen to you,'' Wheeler said. ``It only takes one time that you make a mistake. There's plenty of technology drugs where all you have to do is mess up just once, and it's over.''
Five more operations
Although the kidney transplant has been a success, other complications have led to five more operations -- the latest coming two weeks ago to relieve fluid in his leg. He claims to be ``on nine different drugs now that are more deadly than any steroid I ever took.''
He declined to be photographed for this story because the operations and medications have, temporarily, altered his physical appearance. People, though, still recognize him. Well, sort of.
``Some will look at me and say, `Hey, that's Flex's little brother,' '' he said with a chuckle.
Wheeler said he's at peace even though the days of a six-figure income are gone and he's still struggling to get back on his feet financially. He has a supplement store in Venice and is eager to do public speaking when he gets healthy.
``I'm happier now not having to live that life and live that lie by using the drugs,'' he said. ``It's bittersweet. But I'm in a better place and happier with the smaller things I have in life.''
- 01-22-2004, 10:06 PM
Another on johnny perry
Johnny Perry dies of Cocain Overdose!!!!!
Posted by John on 7/6/2003, 2:42 am, in reply to "Re: johnny perry"
Sorry, the Steroids didn't help, but the official autopsy showed Johnny Perry died of COCAINE OVERDOSE!!!
A cocaine overdose killed Johnny Wade Perry Jr., an eastern Wake County resident who was one of the best Strongman competitors in the world, according to an amended autopsy report released this week.
The report also stated that an enlarged heart might have contributed to Perry's death in November at the age of 30. Though the report did not say what caused the enlarged heart, medical experts say that condition is an occasional side effect of long-term steroid use.
Perry, who was ranked fourth- strongest in the world by the International Federation of Strength Athletes, which regulates Strongman competitions, died in his home near Zebulon. The competitions involve men pulling, lifting or carrying weights that often include planes, trains and automobiles.
At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 390 pounds, Perry was big even for a Strongman competitor. On the day he died, he was scheduled to catch a plane to Sweden for a competition.
The federation decided to institute more stringent drug testing after Perry's death.
The average heart size for someone of Perry's height and weight ranges from 365 to 463 grams, said Chief State Medical Examiner Dr. John Butts. Perry's heart weighed 620 grams, according to the report.
"Even though he's a big fellow, that's too big," Butts said.
An earlier report from the medical examiner stated that Perry had a drug salad in his blood, including high levels of cocaine and its byproducts, and the painkiller OxyContin and the "date rape" drug GHB. Perry's parents and a former girlfriend said in recent interviews that he had taken steroids, but that was in the past.
Dr. Richard V. Clark, director of metabolic discovery medicine at GlaxoSmithKline and an an expert on doping in sports, said steroids can cause a heart to grow larger than one would expect in a normal, well-trained athlete.
"Anabolic steroids at high doses induce muscle enlargement, and that's not just skeletal muscle but cardiac muscle as well," Clark said.
- 01-22-2004, 10:35 PM
01-23-2004, 02:21 PM
Wow, I didn't know Flex had retired from the sport. It is indeed a sad story, I hope he can continue succesfully. with the rest of his non-bodybuilding life.
01-23-2004, 03:20 PM
This is the problem with our society and the need to win at all costs..Look at baseball steroids are running rampant.John McEnroe admitted to using them...Lyle Alzado used so much gear he would light up at night...How many wrestlers,Bodybuilders have died way before there time..I think the problem is we think we are invincible myself included.The **** I used to do in my 20s I should be dead now..But fame and fortune is such a drug we all want a piece of it...Alot of us use pro-hormones or M-1-T or real gear I don't use the real stuff anymore but I do use M-1-T and most of us will never be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness or get a paycheck and who knows the long term effect using M-1-T....Scary thougt isn't it......
01-23-2004, 03:48 PM
The strange thing about this article is that the day I read this article,I went to a Max Muscle store(I live in California),and picked up their free magazine,and Flex is now advertising for them and claiming to use their max1test products.I don't know if he is really using them,but they quote him saying that he only competes naturally,and only uses their 1test product.Just seems strange to me,he is sending two different messages here.
01-23-2004, 05:52 PM
01-23-2004, 07:16 PM
01-25-2004, 03:10 AM
Another sad thing about Wheeler is that he's a hypocrite.
If he had had no kidney problems he'd be there on
stage right now juiced to the gills.
He made his choices and had his fame.
Now he's looking to survive. He will do whatever that
takes including being an advocate for anti steroid, anti
ephedrine and well......the list goes on.
I dont like this phrase "we should be given the right to decide for ourselves."
Who took that right away in the first place?
Its getting tighter and tighter out there.
Flex you are a traitor who just helped the bad guys.!
If you have nothing good to say then dont say anything
I wouldnt buy anything that this "natural bodybuilder" promotes.
01-25-2004, 08:36 PM
I can understand the guy needing to make a living, and with his name sup companies would be all over him. However, I take exception to it when he's giving erroneous and potentially harmful comments such as pgs. 31-33 in the Jan 2004 Max Sports and Fitness Magazine.
~ToddFor maximum growth potential, Wheeler takes 1 Max Test, which is the mainstay of his natural mass-building regime. Now, everyone knows that going from steroids to pro-hormones could logically be considered a huge comedown, but Wheeler has something different to say about that issue. Taking 1 Max Test has been a completely different experience for Wheeler, because he truly never expected to get such great results with any pro-hormone. He goes on to say, "There are really no side effects that I've experienced like I have with other pro-hormones that mimic androgens. And guys, you know what I'm talk*ing about with typical pro-hormones: The aggression, the oily skin or breakouts, and maybe some changes in sexual desire along the way. All I get with 1 Max Test is great gains as a natural athlete. That's a huge dif*ference from any other experience I've had with other pro-hormones on the market."
For Wheeler, the greatest aspect of taking I Max Test is the fact that he doesn't have to cycle on and off of it because there is no negative androgen hit, no adverse suppression of his own testosterone and no gnafly cos*metic changes. But the biggest plus he found was that there was also no apparent point of saturation. "I never have reached actual saturation with this prod*uct. With 1 Max Test I can maintain the same dose, day in and day out, and it doesn't have to change according to time on or anything. I just fol*low what's recommended."
One thing Wheeler cautions against is the temptation to make up for the fact that 1 Max Test is a natural product, rather than a steroid. "The common mentality in bodybuilding is that if some is good, more is even better. This is powerful stuff, honestly, and you don't need to do that."
Wheeler also found a tremendous amount of value in pairing Triple Fusion with I Max Test. "Finding this product has really been like discovering an untapped resource because it's helped my training so much," Wheeler says. "Man, I'm telling you, I get the most amazing pumps on this product."
01-26-2004, 12:22 PM
****ing ass.... blame the steroids...
genetic kidney problem.... blame the steroids.
people die from aspirin all the time... people with bad stomach ulcers take it and hemmorage...
but I dont see people screaming about aspirin..
I ****ing hate Flex Wheeler for this.
and 99% of steroid users dont take anywhere near the dosages of pros... most of us are EXTREMELY healthy ... much healthier than the average person. oh buit noooo steroids are evil...
puleeeeese... that article ****ing sickens me.
04-23-2008, 02:37 AM
dood check out this wikapidia artical that says that his kidney problem was hereditory and was not self inflicted
foo. i think your sources are full of ****
04-23-2008, 02:31 PM
I'm from San Jose too. (now living in FL) poor guy, was making six figures and still ends up barely getting by on the east side. For those unfamiliar with san jose, the entire east side of of the city is
considered a 'bad' neighborhood. other than downtown it's where
a lot of bad things can be easily seen & encountered, etc.
04-24-2008, 11:08 PM
04-24-2008, 11:52 PM
04-25-2008, 12:21 AM
and is on his way to becoming a joke in the bodybuilding community which once granted him the greatest amount of respect. He did it all to himself, but it is very sad to see how far a person can fall.
04-25-2008, 12:43 AM
04-25-2008, 12:46 AM
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