Written by Ron Harris
07 April 2016


The Lowdown On Drugs Part 1

Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray & Dorian Yates Speak Out



There have always been plenty of lies and misinformation about steroids and other PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). Things took a turn for the worse as the Internet made it possible to disseminate bad information at a rate and scale previously unimagined. In recent years, we’ve seen a flood of self-proclaimed drug experts, many of whom post anonymously, hold court on which drugs to use, how to use them and in what amounts. More than a few gain credibility with their target audience by claiming to be current or former pro bodybuilders, or to be advisers to them, even going so far as to list in detail the drug regimens of top bodybuilders, past and present. Understandably, their ulterior motives typically entail soliciting their own consulting services as drug gurus, or in some cases actually selling drugs.

 Getting the pros to talk about drug use, and particularly their own, is a tricky situation at best. First you have the legal ramifications of admitting to illegal drug use, as well as the damage to your public image (even though all of us who have been around the sport for any length of time are fully aware that drugs are part of the game). 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 February 2015 edition of MD Magazine.)

 How old were you when you did your first cycle of steroids? Do you feel you were old enough? What was the cycle, and what type of results did you experience?

 SR: I had just turned 20 and was coming off my overall victory in the NPC Teenage National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a time of trepidation for me. I knew this chemical aspect was present, however I just never wanted it to be a part of my economy as an athlete. Yet I also knew there were beneficial aspects to help growth, recovery and condition, and that these drugs were designed to aid and assist bodybuilders in their progress and competitive edge. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but like the majority of bodybuilders with any credible measure of success, I too would have to cross this bridge to get to the other side. I was on the verge of becoming my own person, making adult decisions, and this would for sure be one of them. I did a very light cycle of Anavar and Winstrol V for six weeks for that contest, and found myself in the victory circle again, a mere five months after becoming the best teenage bodybuilder in America. I was now the best junior champion in the world, at 20 years old.

 What was strange to me about the introduction of steroids into my training regimen was that I had already believed in my “genetic potential” by winning all those teenage competitions over the past three years, but I came to doubt myself as I grew out of that division because I would be competing against older guys who were bigger and more mature than I was. I felt drugs would be a necessary addition at the next level of competition, based on the information I was constantly receiving from those who were more experienced in the game than I was. I felt like I trained a bit harder, with more purpose and hunger while using the drugs because I was told, “Steroids don’t just work because you take them, you have to make them work for you by training harder than ever before and dieting harder than everyone else!” It seemed like a psychological mindfuck of sorts, but I also knew that I was desperately trying to dot the I’s and cross the T’s to be the best in the world, not simply be pretty good!

 The bar was raised very high for me with each victory, and my purpose in the sport was constantly being put to the test in the form of my mentor, John Brown. He wouldn’t allow me to become complacent, and took my training to another level once I introduced steroids. We trained longer and harder than ever before, took naps necessary for complete recovery, and also increased calories for growth and recovery. These were things that were not a part of my teenage contest preps, because victory came easy to me in those years. Now that I had moved on to the next level of competition, victory would have to be earned because the landscape and playing field would be quite different! These were no longer other kids I would be up against, but grown men with many years more training than I had.


 DY: It was 1985. I was 23 years old and had decided to enter my first competition after a year and a half of training, in which I had made excellent progress. I knew the others who would be competing would be using gear, and I wanted to even the playing field. It was a very deliberate decision that I didn’t take lightly, and I did as much reading as I could first. At 23, I feel I was old enough. At that age, you are fully matured physically, you’ve reached your full adult height, and so on. Even though I hadn’t been training terribly long, I had already managed to develop my physique to a decent level. Looking back, I may have been able to win that contest without using anything. I did one six-week “building” cycle of 20 milligrams of Dianabol a day, which took me from 215 at 5’11” to 235. Those were the most dramatic results I ever saw from steroids. I took six weeks off the gear, then at eight weeks out from my contest I began using 15 milligrams of Anavar per day, as well as one shot of Primobolan a week, which was 200 milligrams. I competed at around 210-215 and won that contest. EFBB [Britain’s equivalent of the NPC] officials were there and convinced me to represent the United Kingdom the following weekend as our heavyweight at the IFBB World Games. I placed seventh, and competed with men like Berry de Mey and Matt Mendenhall, both of whom were the top amateur heavyweights in their respective nations at that time.

 KL: Like I said, I did my first cycle of steroids when I was 24 years old, almost 25, at six weeks out from my first contest. By then, I was a grown man and making all my own decisions in all aspects of life, since both of my parents had passed away. My cousin Chico came over to my house with a bottle of testosterone cypionate and a syringe, and said, “Here you go.” But I had no idea how to load the syringe and do the shot, so I asked him to please do that for me. I don’t even know how much he gave me, but I had one shot a week for six weeks. That was it. The first week, nothing happened. Another week went by, still nothing. I was starting to think steroids didn’t do anything, but in the third week I started getting stronger all of a sudden, and looking fuller. I was training at a little health club called National Fitness, but at that point I decided to join a Powerhouse near me in Linthicum, Maryland, where a lot of serious bodybuilders and powerlifters went. There were a lot of guys using gear in there … and a few guys there sold it, too. I didn’t know I was supposed to diet for the show. I was working in construction all day back then, so that burned up a lot of calories. My dinners would be a Double Whopper with cheese from Burger King, and ice cream from McDonald’s. Before that six-week cycle, I was 198 pounds. By the end, I was 206 and much harder looking. I won the heavyweight and overall. A year later, I did the same thing at the NPC Junior Nationals and then turned pro at the Nationals in the fall of ‘91 at 236 pounds.

 Did you believe in taking time completely off drugs for portions of the year, or did you always “cruise” on a low dose?

 SR: As soon as the Mr. Olympia concluded every September, I remained drug free until the new year, every year.

 DY: As I said, I would intersperse two four-week periods between my three eight-week cycles in the off-season. Aside from that, I was consistently on, but my doses were moderate.


 KL: About halfway through my pro career, I had become famous for how much time I took off gear. It would be a full six months out of the year that I didn’t use anything. People thought I was crazy or lazy for doing it that way, and not trying to be huge all the time. But once I saw how well I responded to the juice, I realized I didn’t need much of it, and I sure didn’t need to be on it all the time. I could start up at 12 weeks out from a contest, and put all my muscle back on and get ripped by the time the show came around.

 We see steroid cycles of top pros, both past and present, posted online— always from an anonymous source that claims to have coached the athlete in question, trained with them or known someone who did one of those. Have you ever seen one that seemed accurate, or do you think they are all completely fabricated because most people will accept them as being legit?

 SR: I have never seriously cared nor have I ever been interested in what other athletes take or do regarding drug use. I personally believe what they do is personal to them and of no concern to me. I liken this attitude to another person’s sex life. I mean, really … what business is it of ours anyway, and to whose benefit? It’s their life and their journey— let them live it as they please and do what they want, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

 DY: I can’t speak for all of them, though I have seen a few attributed to me that were absolutely fake. I saw one site that had the supposed cycles of everyone from Steve Reeves, Arnold to 50 Cent. Obviously most or all of them are made up. I talked in MD about what I used 20 years ago; I’m sure things have changed since then. But look, I’m retired now and I have the freedom to say what I want and be honest. Current athletes have pressure from sponsors and officials not to discuss their usage.

 But back to the cycles I have seen posted that I supposedly did— they were all bullshit. Who knows what I used? Even my wife at the time didn’t. The only guys who did were my training partners at the time. Leroy Davis was my longtime training partner, and he typically used the same things I did. I can assure you he isn’t posting our cycles on the Internet.

 KL: Unless the cycle came directly from the pro himself, like we are doing in this article, it’s almost certainly bullshit. People try to pass off so much crap as facts online, when it’s either something they came up with or just their opinion. I can’t imagine any top pro taking huge amounts of drugs for years without suffering serious health problems. It’s just satisfying for a lot of guys out there to see these crazy cycles that the champions supposedly do and say, “OK, that’s why he looks like that and won all those shows, he did tons and tons of drugs— that’s why I don’t look like him.”