Nasser el Sonbaty and Anabolic Steroids
Nasser el Sonbaty at the 1997 Mr. Olympia.
Nasser was always open and honest about anabolic steroids
to anyone who asked.
By Millard Baker MESO-Rx
Nasser el Sonbaty and Anabolic Steroids
April 4, 2013 By Millard Baker 0 Comments and 7 Reactions
Former IFBB pro bodybuilder Nasser el Sonbaty died in his sleep in the early hours of March 20, 2013
after being ill for several months. He was 47 years old. Guillermo Tom, his training partner and friend, told MuscleMag
that Nasser had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and kidney damage in November 2012.
Nasser did not qualify as a candidate for a heart transplant and decided to spend his final days with his parents and sister in Egypt.
“In November [Nasser] was admitted to the hospital here in San Diego for breathing problems,” Tom told MuscleMag. Given that Nasser el Sonbaty admitted using anabolic steroids in a sport where steroid
“It was then that he was diagnosed with heart failure and kidney damage. He was on dialysis from that day on. “
use is pervasive, many people predictably blamed Nasser’s death on his use of steroids.
This does a terrible disservice to those genuinely interested in making sense of such a tragic early death.
Blaming Nasser’s death on steroids doesn’t facilitate an understanding of other important factors
that may have played a role in Nasser’s deteriorating health.
Did steroids play a role in Nasser’s death? Did other bodybuilding drugs?
Did the modern-day “bodybuilding lifestyle”? Did his body size? Did genetic factors?
Health is a complicated phenomenon.
Those who are truly interested in understanding the cause(s) of Nasser’s death and
helping others in similar circumstances avert a similar outcome will examine the entire constellation of events
that could have precipitated the tragic loss of life.
Even worse than blaming Nasser’s death on steroids are those who seek to condemn
Nasser simply because he was a steroid user who participated in the steroid-fueled sport of bodybuilding.
In an article written by Keith McLemore, and reprinted in its entirety on the
Taylor Hooton Foundation website, McLemore adamantly refused to offer condolences to the family
of Nasser while withholding the usual wishes for eternal peace in the afterlife.
“We offer no kind words to describe [Nasser el Sonbaty]… The enormity of their structures was influential To compound the disrespect towards the late Nasser el Sonbaty, McLemore tastelessly
to young generations determined to initiate steroid cycles even though they would become too addicted
to observe Nasser’s final outcome and deviate from their
destructive behavior,” McClemore wrote. “For these reasons, we offer
no ‘Rest In Peace’ sentiments. Rather, we say ‘It Is What It Is.’”
posted a picture of a lifeless Nasser with significant discoloration across his torso.
The picture showed Nasser lying with his eyes closed on his back in a hospital.
The intended effect was obviously to give the appearance of a post-mortem Nasser.
However, the photograph was actually taken six years earlier in late 2006 when Nasser
underwent surgery to repair a hernia and to remove lymphomas.
What those who condemn Nasser failed to realize was that the former bodybuilder openly and honestly
discussed anabolic steroids with anyone who asked about them; he also warned about
the unhealthy lifestyle of a professional bodybuilder. Nasser’s candor about the risks faced
by numerous competitors in their pursuit of a hypermuscular physique made him a particularly controversial figure.
In a multi-part interview with bodybuilding scribe David Robson, Nasser admitted using
anabolic steroids, diuretics, human growth hormone (hGH), insulin, ephedrine and caffeine.
He freely discussed anabolic steroids but seemed more concerned about the variety of other drugs
that found their way into the elite ranks of pro bodybuilding.
But the bodybuilders are treated almost like racehorses. Nasser didn’t shy away from discussing the casualties of
When a racehorse breaks a foot or a leg, then it is no longer profitable.
It is shot right away. Bodybuilders do not get shot with guns (with exceptions like
Ray McNeill) but get shot with needles. And in many cases you have to just wait for too many shots
over extended periods of time to cause a casualty or these guys just drop out because of fear of more
health issues, or they are so deteriorated from being used for too long without getting
the proper reimbursement, which is often “only” a fair placement.
Either they (the bodybuilders) comply with the demands to look
great (which means brutal diets and regular drug intake) in order to make money, or they
deteriorate (which can be extreme after several contest years, combined with injuries and a general
shutdown of their abused systems) or they just get out of the sport.
And then, after so many shows the “men in charge” – the despotism judging
clique acts all surprised by incidents “involving the drug monsters”
like Münzer, and many others. But the show must go on.
pro bodybuilding e.g. Flex Wheeler (kidney), Don Long (kidney),
Tom Prince (kidney), Luke Wood (kidney), Mike Morris (kidney), Mike Francois (colon cancer), Dennis Newman (leukemia), etc.
not to mention competitors who allegedly had life-threatening problems
with specific drugs and/or were hospitalized
e.g. Dennis James (insulin), Mustafa Mohammad (diuretics), Paul Dillett (diuretics),
Mike Matarazzo (diuretics), Armin Scholz (diuretics), etc.
Nasser told Robson that a big part of bodybuilding success at the elite level
was the ability to tolerate large amounts of bodybuilding drugs.
It is not only what your genetics are like if your aim is to turn pro or how hard you train Nasser warned readers about the prolonged use of bodybuilding drugs especially in
or your consistency, it is also very important how your body reacts to all the different kinds of drugs
you are ingesting for years and years. Not only the positive, anabolic effects but also
the negative effects, the side effects.
You need to have a constitution like a horse. For example if Ronnie Coleman
and now Jay Cutler didn’t have constitutions of a horse they would have been
sick a long time ago and wouldn’t be able to actually continue competing like they are competing.
the absence of regular medical supervision.
I do not believe that it is healthy for the body to take, over long periods of time, drugs including Nasser competed in over 50 professional bodybuilding contests yet he was never under
prescribed medicines and antibiotics, or even vitamins or anything in that direction…
Using all of these drugs [Winstrol, Parabolan, Equipoise, Masteron, Primobolan, Oxandrolone, etc]
for longer periods of time – like over many, many months with short breaks over
many years – causes a negative balance of hormones in the body.
Adding calorie reduced diets to this with contests and guest-posing appearances
where you want to look great is definitely not the smartest thing to do.
And additionally adding thyroid hormone, GH, IGF 1 and Insulin can
result in hormonal chaos within the system. All these things taken can have individually different side effects.
Some people also have, for instance, an ulcer problem or a pancreas problem
that they had not been (clearly) aware of, so things can get out of control, especially when not
having regular medical check-ups by qualified doctors.
the illusion that he was participating in a “healthy” sport. And he never missed an opportunity
to speak out about the dangers of some of the practices seen in bodybuilding.
Regrettably, Nasser’s death and his discussion of the risks of bodybuilding
polypharmacy will only be seen by anti-steroid crusaders as confirmatory
evidence to support the demonization of steroids.
What relevance does long-term and extreme drug use by elite amateur and
professional competitive bodybuilders have for the average steroid user? Not much.
Extreme drug use is rarely healthy no matter what the drug.
Drugs that can be used safely can also be abused.
The distinction between use and abuse is often overlooked by those with an anti-steroid agenda.
Why should extreme examples of steroid use be used to demonize the average user of steroids?
In life, Nasser invited an intelligent and honest discussion of the health risks seen in competitive bodybuilding.
In death, the complexity of Nasser’s life experiences should not be overlooked so that anti-steroid
crusaders can conveniently assign blame to steroids.