After viewing some of the photos from Nationals this year, as well as in previous years, I've observed a distinct occurrence; some athletes possess what we call, "the drug look, " and still others, do not. This doesn't just affect amateurs, either; Pros are victims also.
The "drug look" is hard to pinpoint, but we all know it when we see it. Many times it "shouts" at you, and sadly, it is becoming more common, especially among women. So, without discriminating, we can say that it occurs in all levels of competition, is becoming more prevalent with the women, and is not what BB is all about.
What is the "drug look?"
Chemical muscle is easy to spot. The muscle doesn't fit well onto the frame. It looks like it was thrown on the body and rarely has good maturity or quality to it. On some individuals, it doesn't appear to have had time to "gel." This has nothing to do with the athlete's chronological age; it has to do with the "age" of the muscle. Muscle that has been given time to grow, mature, and position itself on the physique has a denser, tighter look. Frankly, quality muscle that has been built with time, training, food and consistency looks like it belongs there, whereas chemical muscle looks alien on the physique.
On women, the drug look is even easier to spot. Women have less muscle then men in general, which is why women are more likely to go the heavy syringe route- to compensate for their natural ability to build muscle mass. With women, the "drug look" kills the appeal of having muscle. A woman's body is meant to flow; and muscle is meant to accentuate the natural female shape of a women's frame. Furthermore, since haphazard drug use is typically what has wrecked havoc on the body, it almost always wrecks the face as well. Once the face is "gone," rarely does it come back, if ever.
Kamikaze drug practices are common with women. Rarely is there any science or logic to the use; "shotgunning" is the norm, even at the National Level. Athletes, having not taken the time to do any research, or who have chosen to trust coaches/trainers implicitly, just "shoot." They don't ask any questions, they just shoot whatever's given to them. This is mistake numero uno.
Long after the competing is over, long after the relationship with the "guru" is ended, the effects of the gear still remain. If you are lucky, minimal damage is all you are dealing with. Time may in fact prove to be kind, and erase some of the remnants of steroid use. Key word here, "may."
Where does this leave the rest of us who don't wish to look like Morticia's ugly twin sister, both facially and physically? It leaves us with the choice to do the work. And, by work I mean, take the responsiblity to know what you are doing. Research what you are looking to use. Information is power; take the time to get it. Plan what you are going to do; don't just wake up one day and decide that Winstrol looks like an appealing steroid to you. Know what it does and know what it is used for. Of course, there is no way to predict EXACTLY what drug will have what effect. Be prepared for some experimentation, as individuals vary. Yes, you are going to be your own guinea pig to some extent. The key will be to organize, research, prepare, and be accountable.
After you've done the "research" work, be prepared to do your work in the gym. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will a quality physique. The best bodies, the ones that we should emulate, have taken YEARS to develop. Even with drug use, these physiques were created with exquisite attention to diet, training, rest, consistency, and lastly gear. If we bothered to go back through time, at the onset of the training of our best athletes, we can see the genetics, the structure, and the potential for size/shape were all there. All that was missing was the time in the gym. Drugs or no drugs, the fundamentals were present; drugs just became one variable in the equation. In other words, it wasn't THE determining factor for their success.
If we take the approach that work comes before success, and that training/diet comes before drugs, the women can succeed. They can build the bodies they want, in given time, without looking like the creature from the movie, Alien.
Prudent drug use includes ample time off, cycling usage, and sound approaches to contest prep. Ambitious usage does have it's place among elite athletes, but even THEN, it is structured, detailed use. The "let's see what happens" mentality has absolutely NO PLACE in the women's ranks. This is for the simple reason that women have more to lose in terms of the physique and facially. They simply can't afford to be "wrong."
In closing, it still remains a personal choice how ambitious a female wants to be with her steroids. There is no way to predict all outcomes, and we can't control all the variables that will be present in the steroid scenario. We can, however, be prudent with the choices, and be patient with our "art."
Maybe our motto as women should be......" miles to go before I sleep."