Written by Ron Harris
01 December 2017


The Lowdown on Drugs: Part 3

Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray & Dorian Yates Speak Out



It’s hard to find a top amateur, much less a pro these days, who does not use growth hormone and insulin along with AAS (anabolic-androgenic steroids). Was it the same way when you competed? Do you feel they are both necessary for the look we see today at the highest levels?

 SR: The sad thing is that so few of the upcoming generation even want to discuss or read about training and nutrition. They are obsessed with drugs, probably because that meshes with the “instant gratification” mentality of the world today. 

 DY: I used GH during my contest phases. The first times I used it were for the 1991 Night of Champions and Mr. Olympia shows. I used four IU a day while I was dieting, and I can’t say I noticed much difference adding it in. For my off-season in 1992, I doubled that to eight IU per day consistently, and saw better results. I had hit a plateau, and it helped kickstart me to the next level. I made very substantial gains that year, but unfortunately I overdieted for my first Mr. Olympia win (1992), so they were never seen. I knew I would be the biggest guy up there anyway since Haney was retired, so my concern was to be as shredded as possible.

 For 1993, I did everything the same as I had the year before, including the gear and the GH, but wasn’t so overzealous with my prep. As a result, it appeared as if I had made a tremendous leap in size from the previous year. What you really saw were the gains I had made over two off-seasons.

 As for insulin, I only used it in 1997 for the off-season leading up to my sixth and final Mr. Olympia win. I got bigger than ever, but it wasn’t quality muscle, and my midsection was distended. Some do believe you need to use all the things out there at your disposal. For me, insulin had a negative overall impact on my physique. It kept me from getting into my usual condition that I prided myself on. Raw mass is not the same thing as quality muscle tissue.I got a bit bigger, but at the expense of my separation, crispness and clear muscle separations. I see that same lack of separation constantly today with the guys, as well as the distended abs. I’m not sure what mechanisms are responsible. You could theorize the guts come from internal organ growth, but if that were the case, my belly would still be big.

 KL: GH was still fairly new on the scene when I started competing as a pro. People made a big deal about it, and there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Now I need to clarify what I said about not changing anything about what I used, because I did try GH twice. When I won the Arnold Classic in 1996 at 257 pounds, I used it twice a day every day for the last four weeks right up to the show. I also used insulin for that show, two IU of Humulin R after my workout with a meal, and with one more meal later on. Out of convenience, that’s when I took my GH too. Those did help me add over 15 pounds of bodyweight, but it wasn’t quality muscle, just like what Dorian experienced. To me, I looked a little soft and watery even though I won. I used both again the next year for the Arnold, and that time it threw my condition off so badly that I placed eighth. That was the lowest I ever placed in any contest, and the only time I was ever out of the top six as a pro. So I said screw this stuff. I did the Mr. Olympia that year looking sharp as usual, and then hit seven Grand Prix shows in Europe. I won all of those except the one in Russia that Ronnie came out for. All of this told me that GH and insulin were detrimental to my physique. They blew out my midsection and blurred out my clear cuts. They will get you bigger, but not better. To me, better is better than bigger!


What was a typical drug cycle for you in your competitive prime— let’s say pre-contest and off-season?

 SR: There was never anything “typical” about my approach to competition. It was different every year, as I like change and variety. There was never a specific time or drug that interested me to the point where I had to watch the calendar as if it were a guide for contest training and preparation. I trained year-round for the Mr. Olympia, sometimes more intent than others. I had my rest periods and so on, but I never “charted” the time for which a cycle was going to take place as if it dictated my journey. I never counted calories, weighed my food, took measurements of my body parts or let the scale guide my progress. Nor did a cycle of drugs dictate when it was time for me to get ready for a show. I never had a “switch” that I had to click to get ready— I was always getting ready year-round.

 The introduction of steroids would only come into play when I was in a process of trimming the fat while trying to retain the muscle. Different drugs were made for very different purposes, therefore there was never a “typical” drug cycle because I never needed or used the exact same drug for every aspect of my body-sculpting phase. A “car” analogy is useful here. A car is used to get from point A to point B. However, the individual buying the car has vastly different reasons for buying a “specific” car, i.e., size, looks, make, model, speed, interior space, etc. There are thousands of cars made to help give each individual who is interested in buying a car an option for the one that is suitable for him.

 DY: Let me stress this is not a recommendation to anyone, only what I used. This would be the course I followed circa 1993 in the final 12 weeks before the Mr. O contest:

test propionate – 300 milligrams
Parabolan (French trenbolone, came in 76 mg/ml ampoules) – 152 milligrams
Primobolan – 500 milligrams

anavar – 50 milligrams
growth hormone – 8 IU

 I typically also did three eight-week cycles in the off-season, and those would be made up of basics like Deca and D-bol. I would do four weeks at peak dosage, then taper down over the next four weeks before taking four weeks off and repeating. Here is the typical four-week peak off-season cycle:

testosterone – 750 milligrams
Deca – 500 milligrams

Dianabol – 50 milligrams

 As I stated a couple of years back when I put those in my column, I’m sorry if these doses disappoint those of you who were expecting something more extreme.

 KL: It was a simple progression. My very first cycle was just test cyp, one shot a week. I am guessing I was doing 400 milligrams per week. After I won my state show and decided I wanted to turn pro, which I did the following year, I bumped things up a bit. I took the test up to 600 milligrams a week, and added in 400 milligrams of Deca and two Anadrols a day, which is 100 milligrams per day or 700 milligrams per week. That was my off-season cycle where I put on 30 pounds between the 1990 and 1991 amateur shows. For my prep, I would add in two amps of Winstrol V, which came in 50-milligram amps, twice a week, so that’s 200 milligrams a week of Winny. At four weeks out from the show, I dropped the test, the Deca and the Anadrol. The test and Deca were long-acting, so they kept working for another couple of weeks I’m sure. At two weeks out from the show, I started taking 20 milligrams per day of Halotestin tabs. So I would go into the shows on Winstrol and Halo. The longest my cycles ever were was 12 weeks, and that was later on. They were usually eight weeks in the early years.


Dorian, you are well aware of the reaction that column got. People outright called you a liar and say you downplayed your doses to appear as if you didn’t rely on large amounts to look the way you did.

 DY: Well look, that cycle I listed above for prep was from 1993, and it was roughly 1,500 milligrams total. I never said I didn’t increase it at times over the years that followed. I was very meticulous, and kept records of all my workouts, meals and drug regimens. At one point, I did use as much as 2,500 milligrams per week in my off-season, but I didn’t see any further benefits than I had with 1,500. Again, everything I had was real and potent. Parabolan came in 76-milligram ampoules, and it was very strong. Nobody I ever talked to used more than three of those a week. I hear about guys now using 1,000 milligrams a week of tren, which is outrageous. If you have gifted genetics, you really won’t need mega doses. I honestly believe Ronnie Coleman was truly natural when he turned pro in 1991 at 215 pounds.

 The guys who come to me taking the highest dosages are typically frustrated amateurs who lack the genetics to become pros. They try to make up for it by using tons and tons of gear, but it doesn’t work that way. Drug dealers want you to believe anyone can be a pro bodybuilder, even compete in the Mr. Olympia, if only you are willing to take more and more drugs. It’s not true, and the guys who need to hear that are in denial and refuse to listen. It’s like you’re crushing their dreams, but meanwhile they are playing havoc with their health for what?


What were your favorite compounds for the off-season and pre-contest? Were there any drugs you personally never cared for?

 SR: I won’t answer that, and here’s why. As a bodybuilder who loved the “purity” of bodybuilding, i.e., training, competition, posing, preparation and camaraderie, using and taking steroids was never an enjoyable aspect for me— either taking them or discussing them. I had a personal disdain for all forms of drugs in our sport, as I saw them as a necessary evil that coexisted with my first love. The last thing I want to do is rattle off things I used, as I feel that would only be seen as an endorsement for them and steroid use in general, and would encourage certain individuals out there to seek out various compounds because “that’s what Shawn Ray used. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me too!” No, I won’t play into that.

 DY: I’ll answer. Equipoise or EQ was something I liked for any part of the training year. Good old D-bol was the first drug I ever used, and it’s still my sentimental favorite. All the guys in the USA loved Winstrol. I thought it sucked! The injection sites were always very painful for a while, and I just didn’t think it was anything special.

 KL: Test cyp, Deca and Anadrol always worked well for me. Those were the basics, just like basic lifts— you couldn’t really go wrong with them. I can’t say I ever tried anything that I didn’t respond to or reacted badly to, for the simple fact that I didn’t try a whole lot of things.

 The fourth and final part of this groundbreaking series will be posted next week.