Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Transformation from Steroid User to Anti-Steroid Politician

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger voiced strong opposition to the use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs in sports during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union with John King”. Schwarzenegger told John King that he thinks athletes, and presumably pro bodybuilders, should come clean and publicly admit their own steroid use as a mistake for the sake of children who view them as role models (Schwarzenegger: Steroid Use Sends Bad Message,” February 22, 2009) :

I think it’s important to get the message out that we should not use drugs. I think we have a certain obligation as athletes to inspire young people. When someone wins an Olympic championship or a boxing championship, whatever it may be, you’re not only a champion, but you’re also an inspirational vehicle for young kids and for people in general to stay fit, to lose weight and all of this.

“I think that the message of not using drugs, not using alcohol, all of those things, always out there and inspire young kids. So I think there are some athletes go in that direction because there’s so much competition. I think they need to come out, be clean, and say look, I used that, I made a mistake, or whatever it is and the sports ought to be without drugs. That’s the important thing.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, as promoter of the Arnold Classic, has previously urged bodybuilding officials to crackdown on steroid use in the IFBB and called a steroid summit with leaders in the industry to institute steroid testing in the sport. This is widely considered as nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Schwarzenegger has publicly admitted his own use of anabolic steroids as a professional bodybuilder as early as 1974. He has never denied his use of steroids and has consistently acknowledged using them during precontest preparation. However, Schwarzenegger’s statements regarding anabolic steroids have not always entirely consistent and have become increasingly more “anti-steroid” particularly since he became governor of California.

Schwarzenegger’s steroid statements have gone from being entirely unapologetic about his responsible and safe use of steroids to characterization’s of his steroid use as stupid experimentation due to ignorance about the dangerous side effects of steroids. Here are some of Arnold’s steroid statements over the years…

Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about steroid use in Barbara Walters interview (1974):

I take steroids because they help me an extra 5 percent. Women take the (contraception) pill. They are somewhat similar. I do it under a doctor’s supervision.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote about his steroid use in booklet he sold entitled Arnold: Developing a Mr. Universe Physique (1977):

I will not speak for my colleagues, but I will write of my experience with tissue-building drugs. Yes, I have used them, but no, they didn’t make me what I am. Anabolic steroids were helpful to me in maintaining muscle size while on a strict diet in preparation for a contest. I did not use them for muscle growth, but rather for muscle maintenance when cutting up.

Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses his own steroid use in Playboy interview with Joan Goodman (January 1988):

I don’t worry about it, because I never took an overdosage. I took them under a doctor’s supervision once a year, six or eight weeks before competition. I was always careful and checked, and I never had any side effects.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger experimented with steroids when they were “new” and quit using them because they “didn’t belong” in his body. He implied only a brief experimentation with steroids when speaking with USA Today after President George H.W. Bush appointed him to President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (1990):

It was new then. There were no laws against it. I experimented with it. I’m instinctive. I felt right away it was not a real thing. I felt something in my system didn’t belong there. I quit.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested he used steroids safely then, unlike contemporary bodybuilders who use steroids, because (a) they were physician-prescribed and not purchased from the black market; (b) they were used only for short six-week cycles; and (c) old-school steroid use amounted to only 5-10% compared to what bodybuilders use nowadays. He contrasted steroid use past and present in an interview with US News & World Reports (1992):

In those days you didn’t have to deal with the black market. You could go to your physician and just say, ‘Listen, I want to gain some weight, and I want to take something.’ Then the physician would say, ‘Do it six weeks before competition, then it will be safe.’ And that’s what you would do. The dosage that was taken then versus taken now is not even 10 percent. It’s probably 5 percent.

Arnold Schwarzenegger says that the muscle gains made from steroids are not worth it due since steroid side effects could make you sick in interview with Saturday Evening Post (1993):

There is no one who has ever gone the long haul relying on drugs. That extra 20 pounds that you may lift from using those steroids is not going to be worth it. But you will know when you get sick and when the side effects come out. I think it is very important that someone like myself who has been there gets that message out.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has no regrets about his responsible, short-term cycling of anabolic steroids while he was bodybuilding competitor in Los Angeles Times (1996):

I used steroids. It was a risky thing to do, but I have no regrets. It was what I had to do to compete. The danger with steroids is overusage. I only did it before a difficult competition for two months, but not for a period of time that could harm me. And then afterward, it was over. I would stop. I have no health problems, no kidney damage or anything like that from using them.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is strongly against “dangerous and illegal substances” which presumably include anabolic steroids in The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (1998):

Certainly, as someone who is in a position to influence young people, I want to make my position very clear. I am absolutely against the use of these dangerous and illegal substances.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign spokesman Rob Stutzman reveals that Arnold would never have done steroids in the past if he was aware of the side effects (2003):

If he knew then what we know now, he wouldn’t have done it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger tells Larry King that his use of steroids as a bodybuilding competitor was “stupid” and he “didn’t know any better” at the time on CNN’s “Larry King Live” (August 10, 2003):

I did, yes. But I mean, there was in a time in the late 60s It was stupid, because it was in the late 60s, early 70s when we didn’t know any better.

Anything when you want to be a champion, you use anything that comes around. If it is food supplements, if it is a tanning booth that is a new idea to get brown, or – the steroids came around at that time, so we tried that.

But then in the late 70s and in the early 80s, research was done and you found out that it’s actually damaging, that it causes side effects and it is bad for your health.

And now, of course, I’m traveling around the country telling all the high school kids, don’t take steroids. Don’t take any drugs, because I’m totally anti-drugs, because drugs are only for a temporary kind of a situation.

You get a temporary – you get strength maybe a little bit more, energy a little bit more, a high, or whatever is – but only temporary, not permanent.

What we have to work towards is permanent strength, permanent endurance, a permanent high. And that is – the only way you can do that, if you train hard, the harder you train the better you get. The more you work on your mind – the discipline, the dedication and those things – the better you will get and the longer it will last.

So, no drugs. No drugs.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had no regrets about his past steroid use, because he was experimenting with something so new that he presumably wasn’t aware of any potential side effects on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” (February 27, 2005):

I have no regrets about it, because at that time, it was something new that came on the market, and we went to the doctor and did it under the doctor’s supervision. We were experimenting with it. It was a new thing. So you can’t roll the clock back and say, ‘Now I would change my mind on this.’

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press secretary Margita Thompson tells the media that the governor believes steroid use is wrong. (“Gov. Doesn’t Regret His Steroid Use,” February 27, 2005):

The governor feels that the use of illegal steroids is wrong.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is against any new steroid laws because he believes the current steroid laws are “solid and sound” (“Schwarzenegger urges crackdown on steroid use,” March 6, 2005):

“It has nothing to do with that we don’t have enough laws, because we already have a very solid and sound law that says you’re not allowed to take illegal drugs.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger used his influence at editor of Muscle & Fitness and FLEX magazine to eliminate pro-steroid use articles. He further stated that he has been against the appearance of articles in bodybuilding magazines that promote steroid use for 20-30 years (“Pumping Him Up – Governor’s position as a top editor at a pair of bodybuilding magazines may enhance his political celebrity,” July 16, 2005):

“We have our meetings regularly to talk about which direction we want to go with the sport, which direction we want to go with the fitness promotion, what should be in the magazine, those kinds of issues. The fact is that we are trying to tone down, and I’ve told everybody to not have any articles which promote (steroid use). Twenty or 30 years ago, we did. I was very much against that.”

And this month, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about steroids on CNN’s State of the Union with John King (“Schwarzenegger: Steroid Use Sends Bad Message,” February 22, 2009) :

I think it’s important to get the message out that we should not use drugs. I think we have a certain obligation as athletes to inspire young people. When someone wins an Olympic championship or a boxing championship, whatever it may be, you’re not only a champion, but you’re also an inspirational vehicle for young kids and for people in general to stay fit, to lose weight and all of this.

“I think that the message of not using drugs, not using alcohol, all of those things, always out there and inspire young kids. So I think there are some athletes go in that direction because there’s so much competition. I think they need to come out, be clean, and say look, I used that, I made a mistake, or whatever it is and the sports ought to be without drugs. That’s the important thing.”

Photo credit: Muscletime.com


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