Interview with Steroid Guru Anthony Roberts
Anthony Roberts is a rare breed. He doesn’t feed you bullshit. He gives it to you straight, like him or hate him. And when Anthony Roberts talks steroids, it’s a good idea to listen.
Muscle and Brawn: Tell me about your new book, Generation S, Tales for a Steroid Culture…
Anthony Roberts: Well, the book is really the first steroid book that really takes a look at all of the issues and events surrounding steroid use that we’ve seen over a generation…but written from a real inside perspective. It’s really unique. I mean, look at it this way: There’s only one mainstream steroid book on the market that doesn’t focus on one sport alone (Steroid Nation)…there’s several that look into specific sports (The Juice for baseball and Spiral of Denial for football, etc..), there’s a bunch that examine particular steroid using players (American Icon looks at Roger Clemens, and Game of Shadows looks at Barry Bonds), or even one specific event (Chris & Nancy examines the Chris Benoit tragedy)…but my book gets into the whole underground (sub)culture.
And you know what? That list of books I just gave you…I’ve read all of them, and in every single case, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to the authors who wrote them. I mean…imagine that? Being able to talk to Will Carroll (The Juice), Lance Williams (Game of Shadows) or Michael O Keefe (American Icon) about steroids in baseball? I’m in a great situation because everyone was so willing to sit down and give me their time – so on that end, the book gets into some mainstream stuff, and I was able to talk to some really talented people. The result is two very strong chapters on baseball.
Really, it’s a different animal entirely from the other books we’ve seen so far. I’ve seen Operation Raw Deal discussed in steroid books, but nobody has access to the agents who orchestrated the raids AND the underground labs who were busted. I mean…we all saw the press releases and the sound bytes and the newspaper articles…none of them talked to any underground lab owners who were busted (although one – The NY Times – talked to me for about three hours after the bust). Everyone remembers the numbers that were repeated in every paper and online article- 56 labs busted, $6.5 million dollars seized, blah blah blah…but it was like reading half a story, wasn’t it? When do we see an article about someone getting arrested, but no attempt to interview the person? Paris Hilton gets 30 days in jail and does a two hour interview with Larry King.
This book is the other half of the stories that never got told….
…whether it’s both sides of Operation Raw Deal, or Operation TKO, or whatever. I talked to the people who were actually selling the steroids, and getting arrested, not just some f*cking press secretary at some federal agency. But there’s other stuff in the book that people probably don’t know about. I interviewed a DEA-TF agent who did three years for steroids, half of which he did in general population! Stuff like that just isn’t in any other book.
And, naturally, since I’ve worked for every major steroid website in the world, I talk about them pretty extensively also…I’ll make no secret of the fact that I’ve been threatened with four separate lawsuits related to this book already.
Muscle and Brawn: Do you feel steroids are being demonized in our culture? Are they really that bad? Recently the feds seem to be getting more aggressive, like the bodybuilding.com raid…Is this a sign of things to come?
Anthony Roberts: Sure they are….most people really don’t know anything about them, and they’ve formed a knee-jerk opinion that they’re bad. It’s always bad when people form uneducated opinions, and in this particular case, they’re doing it against a thing (steroids) and a subculture (steroid users) that really doesn’t have much of a mainstream voice to dissent with. They’re not as bad as most of the media would have us believe -we’re not going to see baseball players dropping dead because they did a little testosterone and growth hormone for the last five years of their careers…and besides, what’s so wrong about hitting 70 home-runs?
The Bodybuilding.com raid was really interesting. Bodybuilding.com is the largest online retailer of nutritional supplements in the world, and the idea here was “Let’s go after the biggest fish in the pond and set an example” – yet Amazon.com still sells the same stuff that got Bodybuilding.com in trouble…and they’re not alone. It’s ridiculous…they didn’t set an example. It’s like a fireman seeing a house on fire and putting out the flames in one room and expecting it to set an example for the rest of the house to stop burning.
It’s absurd. Bust everybody or bust nobody, but busting some people here and there, and a few others every so often…that’s not consistent law enforcement. It’s like busting a coke dealer who sells it by the ounce but not a coke dealer who only sells 8-balls*. And if the excuse is “well, we can’t bust everyone” then there shouldn’t be a f*cking law in the first place. We simply shouldn’t have laws that we are unable to consistently and fairly enforce across the board.
(*note: an 8-ball is an eighth of an ounce)
Is this a sign of things to come? Well, the products (Superdrol, Madol, etc…) that Bodybuilding.com was selling are technically anabolic steroids – they fit the classic scientific description of them by any standard we’d want to use, and they were certainly marketed as them. So I don’t know if this is a sign of things to come…I suspect that we won’t see Bodybuilding.com selling those products again, regardless of what happens in court.
A few years ago some people got together and tried to save prohormones from being banned…and you know what happened? The guy who started the movement, Patrick Arnold, was arrested for dealing steroids to BALCO and it effectively killed the whole thing. It’s pathetic when the industry finally gets together and presents a united front to oppose these compounds being legally classified as anabolic steroids, and the guy who spearheaded the whole thing gets indicted and convicted as a steroid dealer. It made the whole industry look stupid…
Muscle and Brawn: To your point…Ebay and Amazon are still allowing the sale of CEL’s Mdrol as I type this.
You’re known as the guy that’s not afraid to go after “the guy”…meaning you’re not afraid to shine a light on foolishness in bodybuilding, online steroids sites, etc. Do you shine a light on any idiots or foolishness in your upcoming book?
Anthony Roberts: Nobody get’s a free pass in my book. Unfortunately that means I go after a lot of people…I go after law enforcement agents and agencies, I go after steroid gurus, I go after research chems, scam steroid sites, doctors, dealers, websites…you name it, and I go after them. I don’t let anyone off the hook…I certainly don’t let myself off the hook, so I’m not extending that favor to anyone else either.
That’s the strength of the book…I really don’t take a side on a lot of issues. For example, everyone knows that the “not for human consumption” disclaimer on research chemical sites is bogus. But to me, the real fools…i.e. the people who have been publicly bent over is the entire federal law enforcement community. They’re sitting by while people give them the middle finger…”not for human consumption” is put on labels right next to “Pina Colada Flavor.”
Federal law enforcement, from the FDA to the DEA to the FBI look like a bunch of jackasses, and I’m not afraid to call that like I see it. It’s absurd. I don’t want to see the research chemical industry shut down necessarily, but I can’t avoid the issue and not talk about it. I talk about everything in my book. In that particular case I see the feds as looking like fools in a very public way. There are some chem companies who have sold millions of dollars of Clenbuterol. A non-FDA-approved drug, over half a dozen years, and no arrests have been made. It’s a joke.
In terms of bodybuilding, I mean, jeeze…where could I even begin? The IFBB is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code (which I don’t support), but they flagrantly allow (read: require) widespread steroid abuse. I think the IFBB should resign their endorsement of WADA and stop being hypocritical. They’re flagrantly breaking the code at every single contest, yet publicly they say they endorse it. The NFL isn’t a signatory to the code, and it hasn’t hurt them, right? And WADA has done nothing to make the IFBB actually comply with the code. It’s a joke on all sides. WADA and the IFBB look like fools at best.
And of course, I extensively cover everything I know about all of my former employers….many of them have come forward and attempted to intimidate myself and my publisher with legal threats. These people, believe it or not, are so scared of what I know about them, that they’re already threatening to sue without having ever read the book. The thing to remember is that I don’t “make” people look like fools or embarrass them…I talk about them, what they’ve done, and what they’ve said….and they do that job for me. If anyone looks like a fool in my book, it’s not because I made them look foolish…they handled that part all on their own. And if they’ve committed crimes and I talk about them in the book…well they committed the crime, not me.
Muscle and Brawn: I want to ask you about weight training related sports…bodybuilding and powerlifting. Do you believe both sports have been better off ignoring the steroid/drug abuse issue? Or do you believe steroids should be kept in the recreational user realm?
It appears to me that as long as the pro bodybuilders are big, it’s great for supplement sales…
Anthony Roberts: Yeah, well the thing about Bodybuilding ignoring the steroid issue is kind of weird. It’s an accepted part of the lifestyle and everybody from the judges at the contests, to the competitors, to the supplement companies know what’s going on. The problem here is that the United States government knows that it’s going on too.
From 2008-2009, we saw a major bust involving several prominent bodybuilders in Oklahoma and another one in Texas involving Lee Thompson, a judge for the National Physique Committee and the International Federation of Bodybuilders. So it’s one of those “open secret” kind of things that’s going to eventually blow up in everyone’s faces. People who’ve been busted for steroids always ask me “How can I get busted, while Jay Culter (the current Mr. Olympia) is walking around free?” – So I asked the agent who orchestrated the Oklahoma bust that same question. Why bust (*NPC bodybuilder) Darrell Terrell and not Jay Cutler? You know what the agent said to me? He said “Jay doesn’t live in Oklahoma.”
Every major supplement company uses pictures of steroid using-bodybuilders to sell their products, and the people at these companies know that their products didn’t create these physiques. It can’t go on like this forever…we’re going to see some major issues in the coming years I think, because the magazines and competitions are so filled with steroid users that the organizations are really going to get crushed when the government feels like turning their attention that way. I mean…how many times has Victor Martinez been busted? I think he’s on his third drug related bust, and he’s one of the best bodybuilders in the world. It’s not going to get better…
They’re not going to get off with a slap on the wrist like professional wrestling did. Bodybuilders don’t have a Vince McMahon at the helm with a bunch of slick lawyers….they have a bunch of monkeys running the show.
Now, as for powerlifting, I think they’re pretty much in the clear. Nobody really watches powerlifting events, and big fat superheavy weight powerlifters are not being used to sell supplements in half a dozen high-gloss magazines that you see on every news stand. You can’t even find Powerlifting USA (the only powerlifting magazine in existence) anywhere….while Flex, M&F, MD, etc…are at your local 7-11. So I think powerlifters are pretty much going to be safe for the most part, but I can predict with a degree of certainty that the busts we saw in Texas and Oklahoma are going to keep happening to bodybuilders, and probably in greater numbers.
Muscle and Brawn: In writing Generation S, did you have a particular chapter or topic that really got you fired up, and/or that you enjoyed writing the most?
Anthony Roberts: My readers fire me up. The people who check my blog every day or read my articles in Muscle Evolution, and the people who drop me emails or talk to me on Facebook, and let me know that they’re on board with what I’m saying. That kind of support keeps me going when I think about quitting. My editor fires me up too….when we were alerted to the fifth (yes, that’s 5!) lawsuit threat, I thought he wasn’t going to be too happy with me…and he was pissed, but not at me…he was angry that people were threatening us with lawsuits to try keeping the truth from coming out. I’m in probably the 5th round of revisions here, editing stuff in and out for legal purposes, making the book stronger in every way, and double-double checking to make sure I can defend everything I’ve said in a court of law, and I was pumped to do it! I looked at it as an opportunity to strengthen the book.
But to answer your question in a much more specific manner, I was originally really excited to talk about all of the behind-the-scenes stuff that I have witnessed my former employers doing…a lot of laws have been (and continue to be) broken by my former employers…that chapter is the longest one in the book, and clocks in at 40 pages, or almost double any other chapter’s length. That was then….now, I realize that the book is bigger than just me. People have come out of the woodwork to share their stories with me, and I’ve done my best to give them their due in my book. Christian Navoy is one of those people…
Chris was the owner of ResearchChemist.com, and he’s currently serving 27 months in prison for one count of conspiracy. The thing that kills me about that case, and I’ve looked over hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents related to that case, is the media’s reaction to it. Fox 5 originally claimed that he was manufacturing growth hormone, while the local police claimed that he was selling testosterone. Neither of those things were true, and even after his guilty plea had nothing to do with selling steroids or growth hormone, Channel 2 News reported that ??investigators believe the couple ran a steroid laboratory?? even though there were no steroid charges filed, nor anything related to growth hormone, and there was no mention of them on the search warrant, nor mention of steroid dealing in the lead investigator’s court testimony. In fact the lead investigator testified that he had no knowledge of Chris ever selling steroids or growth hormone to anyone, ever.
Yet, even after all was said and done, the media kept talking about steroids. That kind of thing needs to be exposed…a steroid bust with no steroids! And the media wouldn’t let it go…they kept talking the steroid-talk, even while evidence to the contrary was piling up. Now, I think there needs to be accountability, and I’m going to hold these people accountable, from the point of view that this was incredibly sloppy journalism and also that the local police were spreading misinformation. That kind of thing is really what the book is about….I’m a pitbull when it comes to this kind of thing, and if it means I need to read a thousand pages of court transcripts to catch someone in a lie, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to crucify them.