The ravages of steroids: ‘It’s no use anymore,’ says former bodybuilder

A former consumer of anabolic products working in the bodybuilding world denounces the current trivialization of these substances, which are said to be ingested in increasing amounts.

“In the middle, lately, almost one a week dies because of it. We need to wake up!” exclaims Benoit Brodeur, president of Physique America Québec and founder of Coach Export.

However, other experts are tempering his comments, saying this scourge is less visible.

The 60-year-old bodybuilder was already at a young age and used steroids for almost ten years in the 80s. After starting a family, he realized all the risks he was taking and decided to put these drugs aside. If he never had a noticeable side effect, it’s because he used far fewer resources than current users, he believes.

“Today we are talking about doses up to 10 times higher, it no longer makes sense,” the coach teases.

A former bodybuilder himself, Benoit Brodeur used doping products in his youth.

Photo Martin Chevalier

A former bodybuilder himself, Benoit Brodeur used doping products in his youth.


But not everyone is lucky enough to have Mr. Brodeur. Éric, a man from Saint-Sauveur who wishes to remain anonymous because of the controversy surrounding taking anabolic steroids, learned this the hard way.

After several years of recreational training, he reached a “plateau” in 2013. Unable to gain more mass, he turned to a friend who provided him with anabolic steroids.

But six weeks later, the then 42-year-old felt constantly exhausted. Within days, her complexion turned yellow. At the hospital, she was told that her kidneys and liver had stopped working.

“The doctors didn’t understand what was going on. They gave me two months to live,” Éric recalls.

After several unsuccessful treatments, her organs finally started to function again thanks to numerous dialysis sessions.

“I went through hell, but it wasn’t enough to turn on the people I was training with,” laments the man who has never touched steroids again.

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For Benoit Brodeur, this situation is a good illustration of the current problem. According to him and many gym owners, there is a great lack of information about physical training and the consequences of these types of products.

“Many try to get results by all means and are influenced by the lies of social networks,” he concludes.

A plague still present, but less visible

Some gym owners believe that steroid use has declined in recent years due to changing attitudes, but others believe that looks can be deceiving.

“From what I hear, it’s not as much of a problem as it used to be. The male model has evolved a lot in recent years,” said Gabriel Hardy, Quebec spokesperson for the Canadian Council of the fitness industry.

From now on, the fitness enthusiast will strive more for a body”fità la Daniel Craig, instead of trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he says.

Christian St-Gelais, of Complexe Fitness Santé in Saguenay, agrees. In his 30-year career in the industry, he has seen a shift in mindset within the industry. “A few years ago, if you didn’t take… [des stéroïdes]you were not in. A lot has changed,” he says.


However, all you have to do is call several fitness centers in Quebec a few times to have a completely opposite opinion.

For Serge Poirier, of Haltères & Go in Montreal, it is precisely this evolution of mentality that has exacerbated this problem.

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“It’s no longer just bodybuilders who consume it, but usually Mr. and Mrs. Everyone. People want to see results quickly,” he explains.

But these products are more present among customers of certain types of establishments, agrees Mr Poirier.

“We see it everywhere on social networks, it is less taboo than before,” confirms the co-owner of the gym Maxi-Forme Fitness in Saint-Apollinaire Mathieu Baillargeon.


These differing opinions could be explained by the declining visibility of steroids in gyms. Because doping products are now very easily accessible on the web, there are fewer and fewer “pushers” in gyms.

It is also emphasized that since the “model to be reached” is no longer as massive as before, it is therefore not always easy to recognize a consumer.

But everyone agrees to demand better education about physical fitness.

“It’s a battle we’ve been fighting for years. Sport is seen as a hobby, rather than an essential need. That needs to change,” says Gabriel Hardy.

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