Written by Ron Harris
29 November 2017


The Lowdown On Drugs Part 2

Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray & Dorian Yates Speak Out!



In bodybuilding there’s no more contentious issue than drug use exacerbated by the variety of conflicting advice being spread through the Internet. That’s why we went to these living legends of the sport, all of whom are long since retired, to get the real scoop on drugs: their opinions on them, their experience as users and more. Nothing was off limits, and the frankness of some answers will surprise you. Remember, this is not secondhand or thirdhand information— for once it’s directly from the champion’s mouths. (Originally published in the Feb 2015 edition of MD Magazine)

 There is a lot of arguing about the amount of steroids the “average” pro uses these days. Some claim the total milligrams for gear each week ranges from 3,000 to 10,000. Do you believe some pros and top amateurs are using outrageous amounts? And if so, do they actually need that much or are they using far more than they need to?

 SR: I defer to the previous answer I just gave you. Many of these pros take large doses of anabolics, HGH, insulin, alcohol, tobacco, food, supplements and so on. At the end of the day, as an individual with my own career, issues, personal life, family and business, do you really think I’d spend five minutes of my life wondering about what another bodybuilder is putting in his body? I can’t stop him, I more than likely don’t even know him …. so what’s the point of or the use of me having knowledge of what he is taking? I can’t use any information on drug use another person is doing and apply it to myself, as if we will achieve the exact same end result with two entirely different DNAs. I am Shawn Ray Productions, meaning my focus and energy goes into me and mine, and what works for me is a result of knowing my body— end of story. Yet there does seem to be a mistaken belief out there in the trenches that duplicating a specific person’s specific drug cycle will yield the exact same results in anyone, essentially giving you that person’s exact physique! That’s so off base it’s not even worth debating with anyone.

 KL: I never knew what people used back in the day, and I don’t know what they use now either. I only know what I used and what worked for me. At some point, the receptors have to shut down. There has to be a point where only some of what is being taken is actually having an effect. You talk about guys allegedly using 10 grams of gear a week. Come on! That’s enough drugs for a 2,000-pound horse, not a 250-pound human. I don’t buy it. And if anyone really is using doses like that, they’re either not too bright, don’t care about their health one bit, or both.


Hold off on answering, Dorian, I want to add to that. One reason some have speculated that today’s bodybuilders use so much more is that the drugs now are often fake or terribly underdosed, whereas in the old days, gear was typically far more legitimate and potent. Do you agree or disagree?

 DY: I do hear about very heavy doses being used nowadays. People come to me in the U.K. and Spain to be trained, and often they are on 5,000 milligrams a week or more of gear. That’s totally unnecessary. And I do believe the lower quality and potency of what’s around these days is part of it. In the ‘90s, everything we used was pharmaceutical grade. 250 milligrams of test was always 250 milligrams, and you didn’t have to worry that it was 200 or 100 milligrams. There was no black-market, underground gear yet. Now, it’s the total opposite. There is very little pharma-grade gear about; it’s almost all underground stuff made God-knows-where by God-knows-who. So how can you know what you’re really getting? Is it the drug it’s supposed to be? Is it the dose it claims to be on the label? I sincerely doubt it. There is far more profit to be made in substituting cheaper drugs and by underdosing products. I hear guys tell me they are on three of four grams of test a week. Bollocks! If you were really using that much test, your blood pressure would be through the roof and you would be retaining so much water you’d look like a blowfish.

 SR: I personally think there is a lot of fake gear on the market, and the athletes fail to exercise their due diligence to test what they take to ensure the quality is accurate. However, I also know that the vast majority of bodybuilders today, both pro and amateur, start their careers using anabolic steroids without ever building a foundation or a firm base from which to build upon. Hence, if you start your bodybuilding off with the introduction of steroids, after the first phase of initial gains, you have nowhere to go as far as building upon “quality muscle” because it was all built synthetically. This leaves guys with bloat and swelling, but no real hardcore foundation of muscle that was built by the sweat of the brow! When we talk about the lack of muscle quality these days versus in days gone by, this factors in heavily.

 KL: Steroids back then were higher quality. Fewer companies made them, and nearly all of them were major pharmaceutical companies. Syntex used to make Anadrol 2902 tabs that were 50 milligrams each and very strong. The stuff out there now can’t compare to it. The GH being used then was Humatrope by Eli Lilly, and it was the best. Now, people get it only from AIDS patients. Most guys use cheap Chinese crap that’s much weaker. The Winstrol V we used to use came in amps and would crystallize in the syringe. Now there are tons and tons of different drugs from so many underground labs I’ve never heard of. Guys try to ask me what I think of this or that drug, and rarely do I have any idea what they’re talking about. But I am sure the gear out there now is junk compared to what we had 20 years ago.


The prevailing attitude still seems to be that “more is better” when it comes to drugs among many of today’s bodybuilders. How much do you think an athlete actually needs, or is that a very individual, case-by-case issue? Do some guys require far less than others, while others legitimately need to use very large doses to make the same gains or hold the same size that others do?

 SR: There is no question the old adage of “more is better” is applicable in today’s bodybuilding mentality, based on the size of the athletes. But make no mistake— in my era of the ‘90s, the bodybuilders were at an average all-time high as it relates to size and mass! There was no bigger era in the sport than the ‘90s, and I can honestly say I bet they were using a fraction of what today’s athletes are using overall. The proof is in the “muscle quality.” Just look at the detail and condition of the pros in the ‘90s by comparison, including the biggest guys, and you will see much more clarity, separation and density based on the hardcore foundation the guys built for themselves back then, and the longevity of their careers too. They knew it would be a marathon and not a sprint. How many of the guys today are here one year and gone the next?

 DY: Speaking for myself, I took as little as possible to get the desired effects. If results were not satisfactory, I would increase only as needed, which is the logical way to go about it. If you can get good results on 1,000 milligrams, for example, why take 2,000? I knew powerlifters who would use as much as two grams of test cypionate a week in the ‘90s. That was crazy to us. I can’t comment on what the average amounts used or needed are. I only know what I did and what worked for me. Up until my first pro win at the 1991 Night of Champions, I always kept my total amount under 1,000 milligrams a week. Taking large amounts of test simply was not done in the ‘90s, from what conversations I did have with other guys. We would stack a moderate amount of test with either EQ [Equipoise] or Deca, and use orals with that. Now, with all the access to underground gear, it’s very common apparently for guys to use three to five grams of test alone before adding in other compounds. I really can’t tell you a whole lot about what my peers used, because I was isolated in Birmingham and not privy to what the boys over in the States were doing. Regardless, it wouldn’t have affected me. I did things my own way and could care less what others did.

 KL: I think how much a person needs is probably a case-by-case basis. I mean, if you look at doses for many different prescription medications, the doses will vary for different people. One thing I never agreed with was the idea that as you went on, you needed to continue increasing your doses to keep seeing the same results. I never increased my amounts, though I did make small changes. My cycles went from six weeks to eight, and I added in Nolvadex as an anti-estrogen. Putting on size was never that hard for me. My off-season weight was about 278. At my first Mr. Olympia, I was 227 pounds, shredded to the bone. That was probably my best condition ever. I had been 233 winning the Night of Champions a few months before that. I competed many other times between 240 and 250, with my highest stage weight of 257. All that really changed was my training and my diet.

In Part 3 (to be posted next week), the legends talk in detail about which drugs they used and in what amounts (including cycles), name the drugs that worked best for them, discuss side effects they experienced and reveal what they use today, years later, to maintain normal hormone levels.