Body building is a sport that really reached the national (and to some extent, global) consciousness when Arnold Schwarzenegger was dominating the scene back in the late 1970's. The documentary “Pumping Iron,” which followed Schwarzenegger and memorably told his story as he attempted to win yet another Mr. Olympia title, really helped the general public to see what body building was all about.

However, since those times, the sport has become very much a niche thing all over again. Body builders now are considered to be “roided out freaks” rather than mostly-proportionate, big, strong guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno were. Many people simply do not like the sport because they know the competitors are not clean. So, are steroids a serious problem or even a threat to the future of body building?

As a consequence of the fact that steroids have such a negative stigma attached to them, natural body building has become a more popular thing in recent years. Organizations such as the INBF/WNBF, INBA/PNBA, and more hold body building contests where urinalysis tests are required before competition. Other events such as Muscle Mania or Ultimate Fitness Events do the same thing, and their hope is that this kind of body building brings a certain legitimacy to a sport that was trying in vain to be included in the Olympics several years ago.

Since Arnold's time as the most famous professional body builder of all time, the sport has really gotten a black eye from the knowledge that most of its competitors (if not all, at the top levels) have used steroids. Despite the fact that anybody could simply

buy Testosterone Enanthate or a similar substance and use it themselves, people see this steroid use as something that makes body builders even less relatable as people than they already were because of their unbelievable builds.

In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself has had to distance himself from the sport because it linked him to world of steroid use that he had to escape when he became a politician. Because steroids are illegal in the United States, it is not just a matter of using a supplement that is frowned upon, but actual criminal activity that we're talking about.

Many organizations or events do not worry about testing for anything at all, and instead turn a blind eye to what can only be called rampant steroid and other substance use for athletes that need to train as hard as possible in order to build unbelievable physiques. Whether or not mainstream America or the rest of the world would warm to the sport even if steroids were not an issue is not known. However, we do know that in many countries (especially the United States), steroid use is frowned upon in professional sports, which could definitely be holding body building back from becoming a bigger sport.

In such a visual sport, though, where the results are all about looks and not objective performance (such as lifting an object of a certain weight in a power lifting competition), how could we go backward and start celebrating people with physiques cannot match up to what we saw in years past? After all, that's what banning steroid use outright would do to the sport of body building.

It is a very controversial topic and there is no right or wrong answer in sight, but one thing is for sure: body building and steroid use will continue to be linked, possibly for as long as the sport exists. For better or worse, it's something body building will not be able to get away from anytime soon.

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