Information about steriods

When people in the Columbus, Ohio area think about the Arnold Sports Festival, it’s usually about how much revenue it generates over the three-day weekend it takes place over the first weekend of March every year.

That is especially true with local merchants, local media and elected officials.

Everyone seems to have their own piece of the Arnold Schwarzenegger money pie that reportedly generates about $51 million each year.

What you won’t hear from those local merchants, local media and elected officials is how many caskets and cremation urns it has generated.

There is way too much revenue to pocket to care about the rampant steroid use that has gone on with “The Arnold” among its bodybuilders, strongman competitors (men and women) and other strength events.

There has not been any credible testing of Arnold competitors for steroids and other illegal substances since Schwarzenegger and former FBI agent Jim Lorimer founded the event in 1989.

Lorimer passed away on November 24, 2022.  

The Dispatch quoted current Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in the story announcing Lorimer’s death at the age of 96.

“Jim put Columbus on the map when it came to bodybuilding and other sports-related competitions,” said Ginther. “But he did much more for the city, especially our young people.”

Money-wise, no question, “The Arnold” became a cash cow for the city. But helping young people? How? What Lorimer and Schwarzenegger did to not only young people of Columbus, but to the entire country is up to interpretation to say the least.

The other side of that sentiment, I would argue that Lorimer and Schwarzenegger opened a Pandora’s Box of drug use, addiction and death that will take multi-generations of work to undo. 

Steroid use in this country has spiraled out of control and “The Arnold” plus IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” and pro wrestling have to be at the top of the list for what has influenced this growth in illegal drug use and its impact on athletics in general.

Steroids are so out of control and these strongman shows being aired in national TV prompted the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to twice (2014, 2016) rebuke “The Arnold,” IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” and other federations (several of those rebuked federations still have ties to Schwarzenegger’s event) for their lack testing for steroids, rampant steroid use and high fatality rate.

The March 2014 press conference announcing these rebukes were aired on Pennsylvania public television live.

Despite notices sent to hundreds of email addresses including Ohio elected officials, scores of media outlets and other supposed Columbus leaders, longtime media mogul and “Arnold” supporter John Wolfe apparently was able to completely block Pennsylvania’s urgent warning about these steroid events to the families and athletic community of Central Ohio.

“Out of Control” was how Columbus TV journalist Paul Aker framed it in a TV piece he put together October 29, 2013.

The piece ran on CBS affiliate WBNS and featured interviews with local law enforcement, the medical community and steroid’s advocate, the late Louis Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell located in Columbus.

An excerpt from Aker’s piece:

Those users now agree that the problem is “out of control”: in the Columbus area. “I agree with (them),” said Sgt. Luke Holt, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

The problem is “much more serious than the normal person believes,” Holt said.

Holt specialized in steroid investigation as an undercover detective for several years. Holt said he arrested about 25 steroid traffickers over a three-year period.

A Columbus citizen emailed me a link to the story with concern for the youth of her community.

I contacted Paul Aker in 2013 shortly after receiving the story and we talked about how Schwarzenegger’s steroid events and its influence could be the reason for the epidemic of steroid use in the Columbus area.

Aker, who told me he was interested in connecting the dots between out-of-control steroid use and trafficking to “The Arnold.” He was fired about a week after our last conversion.

Paul told me did not know why he was fired and that the station offered no reason. Attempts to stay in touch with Aker since then have not been successful.

It should be noted that the CBS affiliate Aker worked for was owned by Wolf and his family business.

The Wolfe family owned the majority of media outlets in Columbus for decades. After his death in 2016, the Wolfe family started to sell its media outlets.

Was Aker fired because he wanted to connect the dots between “The Arnold” and all its steroid events and the high level of steroid use and trafficking? A massive ad for this year’s Arnold Sports Festival appears on the cover of the WBNS website. You be the judge.

I have checked routinely with representatives of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to see if any events at the Arnold Sports Festival are on the WADA footprint. No event is a member of WADA.

The representative replied:

“Arnold Tour in the USA, this is not a World Anti-Doping Code-Signatory event.”

That same representative did confirm that IFBB/NPC executive Jim Manion has been blacklisted by WADA since 2017. Manion runs bodybuilding…period…including “The Arnold.”

His behavior with regards to steroid use and trafficking by his bodybuilders is so nefarious that the same organization that banned the Russian Olympic Team from international competition for four years, also banned Manion, but for eight years.

“Mr. Manion was first added to the Prohibited Association List in 2017 and is indeed banned until 2025,” wrote the WADA official to POYS.


Manion has run bodybuilding at the Arnold for many years. Since WADA trashed him in 2017, the bodybuilding world has played the shell game with his status and whereabouts. But make no mistake; he is still involved in the seedy world or pro bodybuilding. Why haven't parents in the Columbus area been informed about Manion?

Here are just some of the bodybuilders who have crossed paths with Schwarzenegger’s events, who took bait that is the lie of fame and fortune through the “Dark Side” of steroid use and paid the ultimate price.

None of these competitors have hidden their steroid use.

Rebecca Lorch – Former “America’s Strongest Woman” who competed in the pro division of the women’s Arnold Strongman Classic in 2022 took he own life on December 18, 2022. Her action stunned her friends and family according to January 23, 2023, story in the New York Times written by John Leland.

Leland’s story details Ms. Lorch’s abusive relationship with her trainer who encouraged her to do more steroids than her friends told Leland she was already doing.  

Bruce H. Grossinger, D.O. Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology based in Delaware County, PA talked to POYS about how steroid use can trigger suicide.

“Anabolic steroids have very dangerous effects on hormone levels including testosterone and disrupt the functioning of the pituitary and hypothalamic axis,” Dr. Grossinger stated. “It is well described and reported in the literature over the last few decades that steroids cause many psychiatric problems including delirium, rage reactions and statistically increase the risk of suicide exponentially.”

Tom Prince – Age 52 died of cancer in 2022. He left behind a wife and two kids. The former Arnold competitor had many health issues over the years including kidney failure in 2003 which had him on dialysis until he received a kidney transplant in 2012.

I actually interviewed Tom Price at Gold’s Venice Beach Fitness Center in 1999 and he admitted he was already having problems health wise from steroid use. Tom used to post what steroids he was using.

Ashley Gearhart died in her sleep at just 37 years of age. Arnold competitor.

Bostin Loyd died 29 years old on February 25th, 2022. Possible kidney failure, later reports claimed it was a heart attack. Arnold Classic Competitor.

Cedric McMillan died April 12, 2022, at the age of 44, 2017 Arnold Champion. Long time steroid user.

Paul Poloczek, 37 years old, died May 2022. The Poland native won the Arnold Classic Amateur tournament in Ohio, USA in 2017, where he won his pro card. Also competed in the Arnold Open in Columbus in 2018. Poloczek died just hours after competing in the NPC Worldwide Championship bodybuilding event in Germany. 

John Meadows – 49 years old. Competed in the 2016 Arnold Bodybuilding Classic. Died in August 2021 of a blood clot after suffering a heart attack shortly before that. IFBB/NPC Pro.

Luke Sandoe – 30 years old. Died in 2020. He finished on the 2019 Arnold Classic podium.

Initially, the cause of his was disclosed was suicide. But later, the athlete’s family denied this reason and claimed that Luke’s death was related to bodybuilding or steroids.

Dallas McCarver – died at the age of 26 on August 22, 2017. According to multiple reports, in March 2017, McCarver collapsed on stage during pre-judging at the Arnold Classic in Australia but recovered. He died suddenly a few months later. Several steroid-friendly sites reported he died from choking on food.

TMZ reported that McCarver was ingesting insulin on his own to enhance his “look,” A physician consulted by POYS (Nonprofit Protect Our Youth from Steroids) said it was likely the insulin caused McCarver to suffer seizures, possibly while eating…but his stunning level of PED use almost certainly had a major role in his death.

Rich Piana – The 46-year-old died in 2017 after his body simply gave out from years of drug use – both steroids and recreational drugs. He was longtime pro level bodybuilder and reputed prostitute. Piana did an interview months before his death for “The Arnold” website in 2016 saying he knew his health was declining. 

He was a fixture at the Arnold. Openly admitted he was giving advice about how to take steroids to anyone who came to his booth. There are no age restrictions at “The Arnold.”

Shawn Rhoden – 46 years old, died in 2021). Champion of the 2018 Mr. Olympia – also competed at the Arnold.

George Peterson – 37 years old, dies in 2021. Won the Arnold Physique contest. Autopsy showed he died from steroids.

Baitollah Abbaspour – 35 years old (2015) An Iranian bodybuilder – died in 2015 – competed in the Arnold in Brazil.

Andreas Munzer – 31 years old died in 1996. He competed in the Arnold at least six times.

Mike Jenkins won the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2012. Died at the age of 31 from a massive heart attack on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Dauphin County PA coroner Graham Hetrick certified Jenkins poisoned himself to death from long term steroid use. His heart was 2 ½ times the size of a normal heart at the time of his death. Mike was reportedly almost 400 pounds at the time of his death.

Dominic Filou died at the age of 41 in 2019. He was a Canadian with a wife and six children. Well over 400 pounds when he competed. Published reports state he died of a heart attack. Dominic competed in both IMG’s World’s Strongest Man and “The Arnold.”

This is just a small sample list of the fatalities of young people who have died who competed at “The Arnold” and other similar strength and bodybuilding competitions.

This short list does not come close to the thousands and thousands of young people an event like “The Arnold” influences to believe steroid use is normal.

The medical community has stated that steroids are a gateway drug to opioid use and addiction.

Statistics are difficult to come by with regards to steroid use and fatalities.

What POYS has estimated that well over million young people, maybe up to two million young people are ingesting anabolic steroids illegally, solely for looks.

If that estimate is anything close to being accurate, Americans are spending between $2 billion and $4 billion a year on steroids.

Somebody is making money, a lot of money.

How do you advertise steroid? The drug is as illegal as heroin and cocaine.

Intentional or not, “The Arnold” is a massive ad for steroid sales. And no one in Columbus’ goverment or at CBS Sports Network seems to care about the damage the influence of the competition is having on the youth of Central Ohio and America.    

In August 2022, I personally dropped off a longer list of Arnold, steroid-related fatalities to the office of Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein’s office. His aid came to lobby to get the list and other information I wanted him to see.

The aid looked at the list and agreed that if this was a list high school sports fatalities; those sports would be shut down.

The same information was also dropped off at Ginther’s office that day, as well as at the law office former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who now has a private practice in downtown Columbus.

There is no question Governor Mike DeWine is aware of all the steroid use and fatalities that have occurred at “The Arnold.”

There has been no response from any of these elected officials. 

All have been notified that the Arnold Sports Festival may be in violation of new federal legislation, The Rodchnkov Anti-Doping Act that was passed in 2020.

Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman along with virtually all Ohio House Representatives voted for the legislation.

In this county now, sports doping at international athletic events is an act of felony fraud. “The Arnold” seems to check all the boxes to be violating the new law.

The only real hope parents and the legitimate athletic community can hold is that events like “The Arnold” and IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” plus their legions of qualifier federations end up in front of congressional hearing in the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.

Could that happen? With the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act on the books now, yes it could.

Stay tuned Columbus.


Al Thompson is a Philadelphia area-based sportswriter who had covered high school, college and professional sports for over 35 years. Thompson, a former high school football strength coach, founded the nonprofit Protect Our Youth from Steroids (POYS) in 2016. He speaks to high school student-athletes and other groups about the dangers of steroid use and calls out those individuals who promote and glorify steroid use. There is no charge for the presentation.

For information of POYS and Thompson’s presentations email