All pumped up, but tell us how?
By Sarah Whyte with Nick Ralston
Pumped ... bodybuilder Az Sergeyevich, also known as Zyzz, on Facebook.
YOU mirin' brah? ''Yeah, brah, I'm jelly.'' Wanna ride a bicycle tonight? ''Yeah, brah.''
In the online world of amateur bodybuilders, ''mirin'' means admiring, ''jelly'' translates into being jealous and most mentions of ''bicycles'' refer to anabolic steroids.
The Sergeyevich brothers - Said, 25, and Az, 23 - who go by the nicknames ''Chestbrah'' and ''Zyzz'', are the pin-up boys of an amateur bodybuilding scene. They attract thousands of followers on Facebook who ''mire'' the muscle-flexing photographs. There is even an online group, ''I hate it when I am at the gym and people mistake me for Zyzz.''
Zyzz and Chestbrah are part of an online subculture of amateur bodybuilders who do not compete but are increasingly using social media to elevate stars among them to Adonis-like prestige.On Chestbrah's Facebook page, under a personal training picture of himself at a Fitness First gym, a fan writes: ''If I hired you as a pt [personal trainer] would you teach me how to ride a bicycle?'' Chestbrah replies: ''Of course brah.''
On July 14 Chestbrah was charged with possession of anabolic steroid in a police raid across Sydney. Four others were charged, including a 28-year-old bikie gang member.When The Sun-Herald contacted the bodybuilder, Mr Sergeyevich confirmed that he worked as a personal trainer at Fitness First but would not elaborate on the impending court case.
He has been granted conditional bail and is due to face Parramatta Local Court on Thursday.
Fitness First said it had a policy of ''zero drug tolerance'' and was investigating the matter. ''If the allegations are found to be true, the individual found to be involved will be immediately removed from our clubs,'' a spokeswoman said in a written statement.
As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, police are concerned that bikie gangs are increasingly working in the growing black market of performance-enhancing drugs. The latest Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report shows that in 2009-10, detections at the country's borders leapt 74 per cent to 2695, including of steroids, dehydroepian-drosterone and selected hormones.
The bodybuilding community is divided on the subject of steroids.
The president of the National Amateur Body Builders Association, Graeme Lancefield, said the use of steroids in his competitions fuelled the entertainment aspect of body-building.
''The bodybuilding competitions are a show and the athletes are performers,'' he said. ''People want to go and see freaks. It's like going to the circus. Bodybuilding competitions are more of a freak show than anything else.'' Mr Lancefield said his organisation did not conduct drug testing. "Bodybuilding is not a mainstream sport," he said. ''It's a choice of lifestyle, so if people want to take steroids or not, that's at their peril.''
A naturally developed bodybuilder, and personal trainer for Vision Personal Training, Kiril Chevel, said he found it ''frustrating'' that body building was tainted by steroid use. ''I put in the hard work, I don't go out on the weekend and I have very precise training,'' he said. ''You have to have perfect mental focus 100 per cent of the time, yet those who take drugs can reach almost the same spot with half the effort.''
A former steroid user, Jamie Close, 40, of Kirrawee in Sydney, said there was growing social pressure on young men to get that ''better, ripped body''. He believed the use of steroids in gyms was widespread. ''Ten or 12 years ago, every gym I went into, I had by far the best body. But now there has been a profound increase in the number of men [doing steroids],'' he said. Mr Close warned that taking steroids for six years had harmed his health. ''It got to the point my hair started to fall out,'' he said. ''I was seeing a naturopath, my adrenals were locked on and I was on the verge of chronic fatigue.''
A steroid expert at Deakin University, Matthew Dunn, warned that their use could cause problems. ''It's just not a case of jabbing yourself and hoping for the best. You can create serious self-harm from injecting them,'' he said.
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