December 18, 2011
Excerpts From The Human Cost, published in Sports Illustrated, April 24, 2006 Anabolic steroids are notÂ solelyÂ used by the elite bodybuilders you see on magazine covers. The appeal of Â these illegal drugs is strong, even on an amateurÂ level. The guys pumping iron next to you at the gym may never be on a magazine cover, but that doens’t mean they aren’t striving toÂ achieveÂ that level. Like many bodybuilders, BradÂ Cunningham wanted to be the nextÂ Ronnie Coleman, the eight-time Mr. Olympia. Brad Cunningham was one of those amateur bodybuilders next to you at the local gym. From Garland, Texas, Cunningham was deadset on becoming a professionalÂ bodybuilder, until steroids left him partially paralyzed on his mothers floor, after suffering multiple heart attacks on Christmas Day in 2005. “Cunningham is one of the many anabolic steroid users in the U.S. who have relied on Mexico — and the companies targeted in Operation Gear Grinder — as his source for the drugs. Three months after his collapse, he tells an extreme version of a tale that’s all too familiar: how a healthy athlete let ambition and competitive drive blind him to the potential hazards of steroid use.” Cunningham began taking steroids in 1998, purchasing them through dealers that funneled the drugs through Mexico. It didn’t take long for Cunningham to become injured from the massive amounts of weight he was lifting, which led him to stop cycling. But in 2004, a trainer at a local gym got him hooked on theÂ juiceÂ again. Consumed by the desire to become a professional, Cunningham quit his job to become a full-time bodybuilder. He gained over 70 pounds and made ends meet by selling steroids to other gym patrons. Until that fateful Christmas day in 2005. “…He (laid) Â facedown on his mom’s floor on that December morning, dying. His heart stopped and paramedics shocked him eight times, to no avail. On the ninth try he was revived, and he was rushed to Baylor Medical Center in Garland. “They gave him no chance of surviving,” Â his mother, Julia said, her eyes welling up. “A chaplain met me at the door.” A few days after theÂ initialÂ heart attacks, Cunningham would suffer a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. An intense rehabilitation program allowed Cunningham to walk again, but he is alive; and is happy to see that the pipeline that brought him the steroids that changed his life is slowly being destroyed. “It’s good that [those involved] were taken down, because it will save kids’ lives.” Let Brad Cunningham’s story serve as a cautionary tale of what steroids can do to a body. You only have one body, don’t destroy it by taking these illegal and destructive drugs. Steroids may have what youÂ perceiveÂ to be positive short term effects, but will ruin you. Brad was not alone in his struggles, we have many more Real Stories of Steroid Abuse. If you have questions about the dangers of steroids, please get in touch with us today.