A bodybuilder who has become an online star has spoken about what it has been like to take steroids for 27 years.
Rich Piana, 45, has a loyal following on YouTube, where his videos sometimes get more than 200,000 views, according to Independent Journal Review.
The California-based bodybuilder, who currently weighs around 310 pounds, began his journey as a teenager, when he entered his first bodybuilding competition at the age of 15.
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“I was competing on stage and I was getting to the point where I was getting blown off stage if I wasn’t going to do steroids, so I took that step,” Piana said, Independent Journal Review reports.
He started taking them at age 18, and went on to win a number of titles, including Mr. California.
Despite his success, he does not encourage others to follow his example.
“If you have the choice to do steroids or stay natural, stay natural,” he said.
“There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body and hurting yourself,” Piana added.
Scientists warn that steroid use can have serious health risks, including increasing the potential for liver cancer, heart attacks and blood clots.
They are also associated with a number of side effects, among which are acne and breast development in men.
Despite this, Piana has no regrets.
“But if you want to become a professional bodybuilder, guess what? You’re probably going to have to f------ do them, you’re not going to have a choice. That’s the boat I was in,” he said.
“I’m happy with everything I chose and happy with the way that everything went in my life and I would not have done anything different,” Piana added.
Piana was born into a bodybuilding family, with his mother taking part in competitions, Daily Mail reports.
He is now so open about his use of steroids that he has posted his schedule for taking the drugs online.
Although he no longer participates at competitive level, he continues to train. He has a supplement company whose motto is “Whatever it takes.”