hd_pubpage_230hIf you’re a regular reader of SeriousAboutMuscle.com, you probably noticed that about a month ago we launched a brand-new version of the site. The old one was, well, getting old. It was certainly time for a change.

With that site change came a new writer, champion IDFA bodybuilder Erik Alstrup, as well as some new stuff such as the videos. We’ll be adding more writers, new videos, and other features as time goes on. We’ll also be adding in some of the old, archived content from the original site, because there was a lot of valuable information that deserves to be here but hasn’t been transferred yet.

But there’s something new this month that, at first glance, might not seem apparent. It’s this: Our focus is changing and we’re making a concerted effort to highlight natural bodybuilding and Canadian-based organizations like the IDFA. Our cover this month features Dickens Lambert, the IDFA’s 2009 Pro Universe champion. (There's another picture of him below that was taken at an autograph signing at an IDFA event in Montreal.) IDFA stands for International Drug Free Athletics; they are the leading natural organization in the country and the only one to offer pro-level shows.

This slant to natural bodybuilding is not new – we’ve always had that bias – but now it’s even more so. The reason for this comes from my own experience in having seen the destruction drugs wreak, not just in bodybuilding, but in all sports. That destruction happens in many different ways.

There’s the physical destruction drugs cause – the harmful, sometimes deadly, side effects that drug abuse can have. The bodybuilding press often downplays the harm, but I’ve seen the opposite be true. Having covered the scene intensely for ten years, I’ve met plenty of people who have damaged their liver and kidneys, turned their skin to pock-marked leather, lost hair, altered the bones in their face and joints, and done other irreparable damage. I've never witnessed anyone die in the short-term from drug abuse (in the longer term, it's a different story), but I've seen two come close. One person had a heart attack, the other went into a coma. Why people will take such risks to compete is beyond me.

Dickens Lambert

Then there’s the mental destruction. Some people will tell you that ‘roid rage isn’t real. But I’ve seen enough testosterone-injected blowhards with blood pressure that’s sky-high who snap over the slightest of things. I assure you, it is very real. I’ve also seen the mood swings, the lapses into depression, and the unsightly changes in personalities when people are on steroids. One former pro bodybuilder said to me: "Drugs amplify your worst characteristics and bring out none of your best."

Finally, there’s the destruction of an athletic career that a drug scandal can cause. One just has to witness the outcome of what happened to Marion Jones and Ben Johnson when their drug use was uncovered to know how fast a career can get shattered. Once gone, it never returns.

About 25 years ago, the late, great trainer Vince Gironda said to me in his gym, "Once drugs come in, all knowledge is lost." What he was referring to was the fact that when one starts down the path of using drugs, the training and the nutrition become secondary to the kind of drugs you're on. That's because the impact of drugs on the physique is enormous, and there’s no question that there’s a night-and-day difference in the size of the men at drug-free competitions versus non-drug-free competitions. In the natural professional ranks, you’re lucky to find one guy who is 200 pounds; in the non-natural ranks, you’re lucky to find a guy who’s less than that. But at what cost?

The decision one makes on whether to use drugs or not is, of course, their own. For me, the decision to focus on natural bodybuilding from here on in is also my own, but when I consider the things I have witnessed over the last ten years, I believe it’s the right one.

. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher

Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for SeriousAboutMuscle.com.