Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Dylan Stephens: Steroid addict goes clean, returns to bodybuilding
February 2, 2015
Dylan Stephens: Steroid addict goes clean, returns to bodybuilding
GOING CLEAN: Dylan Stephens admits he once used steroids regularly.

A Nelson bodybuilder who was addicted to steroids and jailed for dealing ecstasy is returning to the sport he loves – but this time, he tells Jonathan Carson, he’s keeping clean.

Dylan Stephens, 27, is breaking his silence about steroids, drugs and prison as he steps back into the gym to train for his first bodybuilding competitions since 2010 – the year his life fell apart.

Stephens won his first four bodybuilding shows, including the South Island champs and nationals, as a junior in 2008.

The next year, he took a “big step up” and competed in the open men’s category as a 21-year-old against older, bigger athletes.

“I started importing a bit of steroids and things like that and started using and I was getting some good gains, I was growing and I was competitive with the big boys as well.”

The next year, he placed third in a competition in Melbourne and the Top of the South Classics, and first in the novice men’s category at New Zealand Elite.

On stage he weighed 94 kilograms and carried 2.75 per cent body fat (an average male has 15 to 20 per cent body fat). The steroids were making a difference.

“I was really stepping up and setting a mark for myself.”

He continued using steroids regularly in 2010 as he prepared for the World Bodybuilding Championships.

“That’s when things started going downhill. I started getting involved in the wrong crowds and things like that and dabbling in stuff I shouldn’t have been – ecstasy and things like that.”

He said steroids were not a substitute for hard work – he was training and dieting relentlessly. Steroids helped to speed up muscle recovery between workouts, he said.

He took ecstasy before bed because it put him into a deeper sleep, which enhanced muscle growth and recovery. Ecstasy also helped with his back pain from a fractured vertebrae.

However, he says he never took ecstasy to get high.

In November, 2010, police searched his Richmond house and found various steroids, other prescription medicines and needles.

Stephens admitted four charges of importing prescription drugs from a Japanese internet company and was fined about $1000.

He said the convictions were a “wake-up call” and he stopped using steroids and ecstasy.

“So I became clean, my vision was clear again, my life was back on track.”

But eight months later, he had another visit from police.

Stephens had been caught up in Operation Explorer, a police operation targeting the Red Devils motorcycle gang.

He was arrested and faced 14 drug-related charges, including possessing ecstasy for supply, nine charges of offering to supply ecstasy, and two charges of supplying ecstasy.

Stephens said he had offered to sell party pills to an undercover police officer, one of his clients at a Nelson gym.

He thought that chapter of his life was over when he was arrested during raids at the end of the police operation.

Stephens pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years and three months in prison in December, 2011. He said prison was like a jungle.

“A lot of people say it’s not that bad, it’s quite cruisy, but I’ll tell the truth – it’s the most frightening thing ever.”

After a few months behind bars, his fiancee left him for another man and moved to Melbourne. But while he was locked up, he said he adopted the attitude that “every negative has a positive”.

“I can get out of jail and get my feet grounded, concentrate on myself, get my life back on track, and that’s what I have done.”

He kept out of trouble behind bars, drifted between different groups and provided training advice to inmates at the prison gym.

He was released after one year.

Stephens said he struggled on the outside. If someone looked at him in the street, he thought that they knew all about his past. He felt judged and worried about what people thought of him.

It has taken him two years to re-adjust and he’s only now getting back into personal training and competitive bodybuilding – without the steroids.

“I’ll be keeping completely away from them. The temptation is always there, it’s always on my mind. It’s not worth it, nothing’s worth it.”

He has also started working with troubled youth.

Stephens is aiming to compete in the top of the south competition in Nelson in August and the nationals in Christchurch in October.

He said he will be using supplements such as protein powder and glutamine, and was sticking to a strict diet of egg whites, tuna, chicken and cottage cheese.

He’s in the gym every day, sometimes twice a day.

“It’s more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Every second, every minute you breathe is about the sport,” he said.

“This year I’m going to concentrate on doing it clean and giving it my all and see where it leads me.”