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Author Topic: Early roid use in the United States  (Read 14656 times)
pumpster
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« on: May 05, 2009, 09:20:22 AM »

A doctor's curiosity and a businessman's love of weightlifting set off a revolution in York

Philadelphia Inquirer

YORK, Pa. – Then, as now, little packs of weary men gathered in downtown York to reminisce. Industrial jobs, like many of their dreams, were headed south. So, on sunny mornings in the early 1960s, they sat on benches, talked away the hours and observed everything.

Increasingly surrounded by empty storefronts, they must have wondered what it was that made Schultz's Drug Store so busy. All day long, it seemed, heavily muscled young men walked in and out of the pharmacy.

The old men, of course, had no way of knowing that the little store and their city, 100 miles west of Philadelphia, was at the nexus of a revolution destined to alter sports forever.

Even if they had been told why these big men – most of them weightlifters from York Barbell's nearby gym – were frequenting Schultz's, it's doubtful that the words anabolic steroids would have meant anything to them.

Few Americans recall that York served as the nation's capital after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Fewer still know of its link to a sordid piece of American history, the origins of the steroid boom in sports.

It was in this aging south-central Pennsylvania town that, more than 40 years ago, American athletes began experimenting with steroids, artificially produced derivatives of the male hormone testosterone that accelerate muscle growth.

The perilous connection started innocently enough, with the determination of a fitness-obsessed Pennsylvania businessman, the ambitions of weightlifters, the curiosity of a Maryland physician, and thousands of tiny pink pills.

It quickly led to results so spectacular that in little more than a decade, the popularity of anabolic steroids had moved far beyond York. They were being widely used, not just by weightlifters, but by track and field athletes, swimmers, and college and professional football players.

A 1972 survey revealed that 68 percent of Olympic competitors admitted using them. Track and Field News naively termed them the "Breakfast of Champions."

"The genie was out of the bottle," said Chuck Yesalis, a professor of sports science at Penn State.

Now, decades later, after a long, dark era in which they clouded the competitive landscape, anabolic steroids are a controlled substance in the United States and banned by most major sports organizations around the world. Yet the positive potential in this muscle-building magic potion continues to blind athletes to its serious health hazards.

"I wish to God I'd never done it," John Ziegler, the Olney, Md., physician who developed them and fed them willingly to York weightlifters, said before his death in 1984. "I'd like to go back and take that whole chapter out of my life."


• • •
Bob Hoffman was a Georgia-born partner in an oil-burner business that had its factory on North Broad Street in York.

A veteran of World War I, he became interested in weight training and threw himself into the pursuit. By 1923, at age 25, Hoffman had invented the barbell. Until then, lifters had used one-weight dumbbells. Barbells – circular weights that could be mounted on a bar – allowed a lifter to set his own burden.

Weightlifting quickly became not only Hoffman's passion but his full-time business. Soon, he had converted his oil-burner shop into a barbell-manufacturing plant, York Barbell Co.

By 1946, York Barbell employed 150 people, and was selling 50,000 barbell sets and grossing $1 million annually. The company published its own magazines, including the widely ready Strength and Health, and sold health and food supplements.

Hoffman was the dominant figure in U.S. weightlifting, coach of the Olympic team, and, through his magazines, the most vocal advocate and salesman for the sport. Lifters from across the nation flocked to York for training, first at the Broad Street facility and later at the firm's new gym, converted from an old Acme supermarket on Ridge Avenue.

Hoffman gave them jobs, in effect personally subsidizing the sport. In 1947, in Philadelphia's Convention Hall, he staged the first world championships. Weightlifters from the United States, which was to say from York Barbell, broke 12 world records.

"From the 1930s through the 1970s, York was Mecca for U.S. and world weightlifters," said John D. Fair, a history professor at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga., who has written and researched extensively on Hoffman and weightlifting.

In the years immediately after World War II, Ziegler, a gregarious, 6-foot-4 Gettysburg College graduate, was recuperating from a war wound. His rehabilitation regimen included weightlifting, and he, too, became a fanatic.

Ziegler went on to medical school, where his own experiences led him to specialize in physical rehabilitation. Working out in a gym in Silver Spring, Md., he became acquainted with John Grimek, a York employee and a world-class lifter. Ziegler soon made the pilgrimage to York to meet Hoffman.

The two hit it off and Ziegler became the American weightlifting team's physician. It was in that position that he made the discovery that would change his life – and those of many, many others in the years to come.

At the 1954 world championships in Vienna, Ziegler befriended a physician from the Soviet Union. Drinking in an Austrian beer hall one night, the Soviet doctor admitted that his team had been using a synthetic form of testosterone.

There had been widespread speculation in the lifting world about some sort of medical genie that Nazi scientists had uncovered during the war. There were always magic elixirs being touted, some concoction or training technique that could produce rapid improvement.

Hoffman, for example, sold Hi-Proteen, a powdered drink that he called "our secret weapon."

"It was," Fair said, "symptomatic of a perpetual search for ways to alter the body's chemistry to induce more effective muscular growth."

Returning home and garnering the research assistance of Ciba Pharmaceuticals in Summit, N.J., Ziegler began to hunt for an artificial substance that would mimic testosterone. Ciba supplied him not only with the testosterone, but with records of Nazi research the United States had confiscated after the war.

"He got into this whole thing not for any diabolical reasons, but merely out of a desire to experiment," Fair said. "He began using it with burn victims and the physically disabled. And at some point, he said, 'What if I gave this stuff to athletes?' "

By 1958, he had developed Dianabol, which was the first mass-produced anabolic steroid and the brand name for the chemical compound methandrostenolone. Within a few years, Ziegler was administering it, either through injection or by pill, to lifters on his regular visits to York. He was by then on the company's payroll.

Lifters were amazed at the results – though it took time for them to convince themselves that their increased performance was almost solely due to Ziegler's pills.

"This was a more innocent era," Fair said. "No one could quite believe these pills could make you a superstar almost overnight. They were raised on the Horatio Alger ethic: Hard work, sacrifice, physical training. Those were the things that made you a success. Not some pill."

According to Fair, around this time, Hoffman had discovered isometrics – exerting force against a stationary object. He pitched this new training regimen hard in his magazine, and it quickly became a national exercise phenomenon.

There is still some dispute as to how much Hoffman knew about the steroid experimentation. It's clear, Fair said, that there was confusion as to whether it was the isometrics or steroids causing the improved performances of U.S. lifters in York.

Bill March and Louis Riecke, according to Fair, had displayed great and rapid progress. Hoffman ballyhooed the two lifters as proof of isometrics' benefits.

Later, they admitted to having used steroids.

"If [Ziegler] had told me to eat grass, I would have done so to get strong," March later told Fair.

Ziegler typically prescribed 10 milligrams a day. One of the first York lifters to try steroids, according to Fair, added 100 pounds to his best three-lift total in two months.

Terry Todd, now the coordinator of strength training at the University of Texas, was a young weightlifter then. Reading about the records that were falling, and which Hoffman was attributing to isometrics, he grew curious.

"I was using isometrics to no avail," he said. "So I went to York to learn why. [A lifter] there showed me a little brown bottle with 100 5-milligram tabs of Dianabol, these little pink pills."

Once others came to understand that connection, lifters began to press Ziegler for prescriptions, most of which, Fair said, were filled at Schultz's. In time, the store was shipping anabolic steroids to weightlifters throughout the United States. One of York's trainers would frequently take station-wagon loads of men to Ziegler's Maryland office for the treatments.

Ziegler gave Dianabol to the entire U.S. Olympic team in Rome in 1960. They still lost to the Soviets, leading to the belief that the Soviet scientists were ahead in more than just manned-space-travel technology.

It was all perfectly legal and, at that time, few foresaw the drug's potential dangers.

In time, many of York's lifters went on to become strength and conditioning coaches for football and track teams. They took their secret with them.

"You can see the appeal," Yesalis said. "No matter the sport, a good big man is almost always going to beat a good little man."

Ziegler and others gradually became aware of Dianabol's hazardous impact on the liver and heart. As news of steroids' beneficial impact and harmful side effects leaked into the general public, the debate over their use gained force.

Ziegler began to backtrack, cautioning lifters against indiscriminate steroid use.

"These guys were all young and strong and not really thinking about the drug's consequences," Fair said. "This concerned Ziegler. Things had gotten out of his control."

In 1967, the International Olympic Committee funded its own medical commission to perform drug tests on athletes. By the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, it was testing specifically for anabolic steroids. In 1991, the U.S. government placed them on its controlled-substance list.

Still, anabolic steroids, and the similar drugs that followed, were being used.

Hoffman died in 1985, the extent of his knowledge about his company's links to steroid abuse still unknown.

A year earlier, Ziegler had passed away. By then, despite their notorious reputation, anabolic steroids were being used even by high school athletes.

"All those young kids," he said in an interview shortly before his death, "what a terrible price they'll pay. If only I'd known it would come to this."
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 12:54:06 PM »


John Ziegler, 1920 - 1983 was an American physician who originally developed the anabolic steroid Methandrostenolone (Dianabol, DBOL) which was released in the USA in 1958 by Ciba.

He pioneered its athletic use as an aid to muscle growth by bodybuilders, administering it to U.S. weightlifting champion Bill March of the York Barbell club in 1959 when he was the physician to the U.S. Weightlifting team. It was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Controlled Substances Act. In later life he was outspoken against its use in sport, saying "It is bad enough to have to deal with drug addicts, but now healthy athletes are putting themselves in the same category. It's a disgrace. Who plays sports for fun anymore?". Ziegler suffered from heart disease, which he partially ascribed to his experimentation with steroids, and he died from heart failure in 1983.

He served as a officer in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific in World War II, where he suffered extensive bullet wounds. His experience of surgery and convalescence lead to a speciality in recuperative medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School. He served his internship and residency at Marine hospitals in Norfolk Virginia and Mobile Alabama, before completing a two year residence in neurology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. In 1954 after he settled in Olney, Maryland he specialized in the treatment of handicapped and seriously injured patients whilst conducting chemistry research at Ciba Pharmaceuticals part time.

He became an enthusiastic weightlifter who pumped iron at the York Barbell Club, which was at the center of American fitness training thanks to its owner Bob Hoffman. Hoffman had competed with Joe Weider and Charles Atlas for the title of Mr America and wrote the book Weight Lifting in 1939. Ziegler's scientific credentials supplemented Hoffman's bodybuilding theories. Ziegler befriended weightlifter and bodybuilder champion John Grimek who was employed by Hoffman.

Developing anabolic steroids
Working at CIBA allowed Ziegler access to books and records from Germany where experiments with testosterone had been carried out by the Nazis, and which had been confiscated by the United States after the war.

In October 1954, Ziegler, went to Vienna with the American weightlifting team. There he met a Russian physicist who, over "a few drinks", repeatedly asked "What are you giving your boys?" When Ziegler returned the question, the Russian said that his own athletes were being given testosterone. Returning to America, Ziegler tried weak doses of testosterone on himself, on the American trainer Bob Hoffman and on two lifters, Jim Park and Yaz Kuzahara. All gained more weight and strength than any training programme would produce but there were side-effects. Ziegler sought a drug without after-effects and hit on an anabolic steroid, methandrostenolone, (Dianabol, DBOL), made in the U.S. in 1958 by Ciba.

Ziegler gave Dianabol to the entire U.S. Olympic weightlifting team in Rome in 1960, but they still lost to the Soviets.[5] He gave up experimentation with athletes when he learned that some who had taken 20 times the recommended dose of Dianabol had developed a liver condition. He was quoted in Science saying "I lost interest in fooling with IQ's of that caliber. Now it's about as widespread among these idiots as marihuana." In later years Ziegler regretted introducing AAS to athletes. He recollected "but I wish to God now I’d never done it. I’d like to go back and take that whole chapter out of my life."
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2009, 04:54:58 PM »

great post should be required reading for all on here.
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009, 09:35:47 AM »

Thank GOD he did what he did, without him we wouldn't see these great freaks of today and yesterday.  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 01:12:31 PM »

doctor john in later years  was sorry that he opened pandora's box as he put it.


* Zieglerandgang.jpg (13.74 KB, 258x200 - viewed 2602 times.)
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2009, 03:56:27 AM »

A doctor's curiosity and a businessman's love of weightlifting set off a revolution in York

Philadelphia Inquirer

YORK, Pa. – Then, as now, little packs of weary men gathered in downtown York to reminisce. Industrial jobs, like many of their dreams, were headed south. So, on sunny mornings in the early 1960s, they sat on benches, talked away the hours and observed everything.

Increasingly surrounded by empty storefronts, they must have wondered what it was that made Schultz's Drug Store so busy. All day long, it seemed, heavily muscled young men walked in and out of the pharmacy.

The old men, of course, had no way of knowing that the little store and their city, 100 miles west of Philadelphia, was at the nexus of a revolution destined to alter sports forever.

Even if they had been told why these big men – most of them weightlifters from York Barbell's nearby gym – were frequenting Schultz's, it's doubtful that the words anabolic steroids would have meant anything to them.

Few Americans recall that York served as the nation's capital after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Fewer still know of its link to a sordid piece of American history, the origins of the steroid boom in sports.

It was in this aging south-central Pennsylvania town that, more than 40 years ago, American athletes began experimenting with steroids, artificially produced derivatives of the male hormone testosterone that accelerate muscle growth.

The perilous connection started innocently enough, with the determination of a fitness-obsessed Pennsylvania businessman, the ambitions of weightlifters, the curiosity of a Maryland physician, and thousands of tiny pink pills.

It quickly led to results so spectacular that in little more than a decade, the popularity of anabolic steroids had moved far beyond York. They were being widely used, not just by weightlifters, but by track and field athletes, swimmers, and college and professional football players.

A 1972 survey revealed that 68 percent of Olympic competitors admitted using them. Track and Field News naively termed them the "Breakfast of Champions."

"The genie was out of the bottle," said Chuck Yesalis, a professor of sports science at Penn State.

Now, decades later, after a long, dark era in which they clouded the competitive landscape, anabolic steroids are a controlled substance in the United States and banned by most major sports organizations around the world. Yet the positive potential in this muscle-building magic potion continues to blind athletes to its serious health hazards.

"I wish to God I'd never done it," John Ziegler, the Olney, Md., physician who developed them and fed them willingly to York weightlifters, said before his death in 1984. "I'd like to go back and take that whole chapter out of my life."


• • •
Bob Hoffman was a Georgia-born partner in an oil-burner business that had its factory on North Broad Street in York.

A veteran of World War I, he became interested in weight training and threw himself into the pursuit. By 1923, at age 25, Hoffman had invented the barbell. Until then, lifters had used one-weight dumbbells. Barbells – circular weights that could be mounted on a bar – allowed a lifter to set his own burden.

Weightlifting quickly became not only Hoffman's passion but his full-time business. Soon, he had converted his oil-burner shop into a barbell-manufacturing plant, York Barbell Co.

By 1946, York Barbell employed 150 people, and was selling 50,000 barbell sets and grossing $1 million annually. The company published its own magazines, including the widely ready Strength and Health, and sold health and food supplements.

Hoffman was the dominant figure in U.S. weightlifting, coach of the Olympic team, and, through his magazines, the most vocal advocate and salesman for the sport. Lifters from across the nation flocked to York for training, first at the Broad Street facility and later at the firm's new gym, converted from an old Acme supermarket on Ridge Avenue.

Hoffman gave them jobs, in effect personally subsidizing the sport. In 1947, in Philadelphia's Convention Hall, he staged the first world championships. Weightlifters from the United States, which was to say from York Barbell, broke 12 world records.

"From the 1930s through the 1970s, York was Mecca for U.S. and world weightlifters," said John D. Fair, a history professor at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga., who has written and researched extensively on Hoffman and weightlifting.

In the years immediately after World War II, Ziegler, a gregarious, 6-foot-4 Gettysburg College graduate, was recuperating from a war wound. His rehabilitation regimen included weightlifting, and he, too, became a fanatic.

Ziegler went on to medical school, where his own experiences led him to specialize in physical rehabilitation. Working out in a gym in Silver Spring, Md., he became acquainted with John Grimek, a York employee and a world-class lifter. Ziegler soon made the pilgrimage to York to meet Hoffman.

The two hit it off and Ziegler became the American weightlifting team's physician. It was in that position that he made the discovery that would change his life – and those of many, many others in the years to come.

At the 1954 world championships in Vienna, Ziegler befriended a physician from the Soviet Union. Drinking in an Austrian beer hall one night, the Soviet doctor admitted that his team had been using a synthetic form of testosterone.

There had been widespread speculation in the lifting world about some sort of medical genie that Nazi scientists had uncovered during the war. There were always magic elixirs being touted, some concoction or training technique that could produce rapid improvement.

Hoffman, for example, sold Hi-Proteen, a powdered drink that he called "our secret weapon."

"It was," Fair said, "symptomatic of a perpetual search for ways to alter the body's chemistry to induce more effective muscular growth."

Returning home and garnering the research assistance of Ciba Pharmaceuticals in Summit, N.J., Ziegler began to hunt for an artificial substance that would mimic testosterone. Ciba supplied him not only with the testosterone, but with records of Nazi research the United States had confiscated after the war.

"He got into this whole thing not for any diabolical reasons, but merely out of a desire to experiment," Fair said. "He began using it with burn victims and the physically disabled. And at some point, he said, 'What if I gave this stuff to athletes?' "

By 1958, he had developed Dianabol, which was the first mass-produced anabolic steroid and the brand name for the chemical compound methandrostenolone. Within a few years, Ziegler was administering it, either through injection or by pill, to lifters on his regular visits to York. He was by then on the company's payroll.

Lifters were amazed at the results – though it took time for them to convince themselves that their increased performance was almost solely due to Ziegler's pills.

"This was a more innocent era," Fair said. "No one could quite believe these pills could make you a superstar almost overnight. They were raised on the Horatio Alger ethic: Hard work, sacrifice, physical training. Those were the things that made you a success. Not some pill."

According to Fair, around this time, Hoffman had discovered isometrics – exerting force against a stationary object. He pitched this new training regimen hard in his magazine, and it quickly became a national exercise phenomenon.

There is still some dispute as to how much Hoffman knew about the steroid experimentation. It's clear, Fair said, that there was confusion as to whether it was the isometrics or steroids causing the improved performances of U.S. lifters in York.

Bill March and Louis Riecke, according to Fair, had displayed great and rapid progress. Hoffman ballyhooed the two lifters as proof of isometrics' benefits.

Later, they admitted to having used steroids.

"If [Ziegler] had told me to eat grass, I would have done so to get strong," March later told Fair.

Ziegler typically prescribed 10 milligrams a day. One of the first York lifters to try steroids, according to Fair, added 100 pounds to his best three-lift total in two months.

Terry Todd, now the coordinator of strength training at the University of Texas, was a young weightlifter then. Reading about the records that were falling, and which Hoffman was attributing to isometrics, he grew curious.

"I was using isometrics to no avail," he said. "So I went to York to learn why. [A lifter] there showed me a little brown bottle with 100 5-milligram tabs of Dianabol, these little pink pills."

Once others came to understand that connection, lifters began to press Ziegler for prescriptions, most of which, Fair said, were filled at Schultz's. In time, the store was shipping anabolic steroids to weightlifters throughout the United States. One of York's trainers would frequently take station-wagon loads of men to Ziegler's Maryland office for the treatments.

Ziegler gave Dianabol to the entire U.S. Olympic team in Rome in 1960. They still lost to the Soviets, leading to the belief that the Soviet scientists were ahead in more than just manned-space-travel technology.

It was all perfectly legal and, at that time, few foresaw the drug's potential dangers.

In time, many of York's lifters went on to become strength and conditioning coaches for football and track teams. They took their secret with them.

"You can see the appeal," Yesalis said. "No matter the sport, a good big man is almost always going to beat a good little man."

Ziegler and others gradually became aware of Dianabol's hazardous impact on the liver and heart. As news of steroids' beneficial impact and harmful side effects leaked into the general public, the debate over their use gained force.

Ziegler began to backtrack, cautioning lifters against indiscriminate steroid use.

"These guys were all young and strong and not really thinking about the drug's consequences," Fair said. "This concerned Ziegler. Things had gotten out of his control."

In 1967, the International Olympic Committee funded its own medical commission to perform drug tests on athletes. By the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, it was testing specifically for anabolic steroids. In 1991, the U.S. government placed them on its controlled-substance list.

Still, anabolic steroids, and the similar drugs that followed, were being used.

Hoffman died in 1985, the extent of his knowledge about his company's links to steroid abuse still unknown.

A year earlier, Ziegler had passed away. By then, despite their notorious reputation, anabolic steroids were being used even by high school athletes.

"All those young kids," he said in an interview shortly before his death, "what a terrible price they'll pay. If only I'd known it would come to this."


Hmm..interesting story.
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2010, 03:53:08 AM »

"But the real dam broke in 1945, when science writer Paul de Kruif published The Male Hormone. When the book came out, it was big news. Newsweek wrote a full-page review, and Reader’s Digest excerpted the work. Reviewers cited both de Kruif’s bioethical fearlessness and his scientific excellence. The book was about testosterone and the impact it would have on our economy and our health. De Kruif foresaw riches for its manufacturers; however, he didn't predict that steroids would become a huge black-market business. He foretold increased vigor and extended life for its consumers. About health, de Kruif was downright prescient, though very few people know this, and the reason very few people know this is because it’s quite possible Paul de Kruif’s was the last unbiased opinion on the subject."


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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2010, 04:07:50 AM »

Talk of Test usage in 1945.
Think guys were juicing back then?

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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2011, 02:47:10 PM »

the first i heard about steroids was in the late 60's a rival hs football team used them like candy. they went undefeated.
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2011, 03:33:14 PM »

I did a research papaer on this very story back in high school and later revised it for college.

people juicing in 1945? NO. vets had testosterone back in the 1800's for animals. The USA didn't know of human grade AAS use until the mid/late 50's. The soviets were kicking our ass (butts) in olympic weightlifting. the US coach went to russia to learn of training tech and that is where the drink story takes place and information exchanged. the knowledge came back with the coach and Zeigler developed dbol. Human grade testosteron was gathered from the puitary gland of cadavars. expensive to produce. it's not like the US olympic team did dbol for a wk in rome and lost. they did it for years and lost. when all things are equal genetics win. AAS didn't get to the general public until the very late 60's and early 70's. So, when you see a photo of BB in the 30's, 40's, 50's - he is natural. 60's, maybe. 70's & up? juice head.

If memory serves, the olympic committe wiped clean all olympic weightlifting records and starting over in the 90's, I think?
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011, 03:26:43 PM »

source: http://www.ergogenics.org/123.html


Sunday, October 02, 2005
By Robert Dvorchak
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



YORK, Pa. -- A few months removed from pumping iron in a barn with his buddies, Bill March was referred by his mentors at the York Barbell Club to the team doctor for the U.S. weight-lifting team.

The physician -- the late John Bosley Ziegler -- fancied himself as a researcher who was on a quest to merge science and sports. He introduced March to a new piece of workout equipment. He also gave March a packet of experimental blue pills.

"I thought it was just another vitamin," March, 69, said in a recent interview at his home in rural York County. "I didn't know what they were. He needed a guinea pig. I was gung-ho at the time and said sure. I would have done anything they told me. I just wanted a better physique."

The pills contained the anabolic steroid methandrostenolone, a biochemically engineered derivative of the sex hormone testosterone that was packaged under the brand name Dianabol.

March's introduction to steroids came in the waning months of 1959, the documented dawn of the Age of Steroids in American sports.

Forty-six years later, "the juice," as it is called, is classified as a controlled substance by the government and as a tool of cheaters in the sports world. Like the villagers in a '50s horror movie brandishing torches and pitchforks, policy-makers are all in a frenzy trying to kill it. Their main weapon, however, is a urine test that detects molecules of artificial manliness.

The word hormone comes from the Greek and means to excite or arouse. And what could stir things up more than a secret experiment involving unnatural doses of testosterone? Produced in the testicles in males, testosterone not only has the power to turn a boy into a man, but it also sends messages to those primal areas in the brain that trigger the sex drive.

The consequences of feeding a sex hormone as a muscle-builder to iron-willed competitive athletes were unforeseen, but even before Viagra pitchman Rafael Palmeiro tested positive this summer, little was left to deny.

Sports have been played by men and women on artificial testosterone for more than four decades. Every legitimate athletic achievement has been shadowed by a parallel universe of counterfeit Olympic gold, testosterone touchdowns and hormonal home runs.

But a re-examination of the essence of competition among elite athletes is only the half of it. Steroids now thrive on a black market that reaches into high schools, junior highs and local gyms. Advances in technology mean they can be swallowed, injected, inhaled or ingested via creams, gels, patches or droplets under the tongue, and they're engineered to avoid detection.

If abused, steroids can cause severe health consequences, especially in women and adolescents. But they also have some legitimate medical uses and hold the promise, through tightly regulated hormone replacement, of renewed vitality in aging Baby Boomers.

"I think Ziegler was groping around in the dark. In a sense, we're still like Ziegler, groping around in the dark about this stuff," said John Fair, a weight lifter and professor of history at Georgia College and State University, a chronicler of the birth of steroids and author of "Muscletown USA."

"It was an age of innocence. The feeling at the time was, if it's there and it's going to work, why not try it? Nobody could believe you could get muscles from a pill. Now we live in a pill-popping age," he added.

There could hardly be a more benign setting for the birthplace of steroids than York, a south central Pennsylvania town that briefly served as the nation's capital during the Revolutionary War when a fledgling democracy fled the advance of the British on Philadelphia.

But the mostly rural area is no stranger to things that have spun out of control. The Gettysburg battlefield that redefined a nation divided by Civil War is a 30-minute drive to the southwest, and the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor that exposed the illusion of fail-safe atomic technology is a short drive to the north.

From the time of the original Olympics in ancient Greece, athletes have sought out substances to give them an edge in their quest for personal glory. But artificial hormones?

"In all of sports, there is really nothing quite like steroids," Fair said. "Nothing is clean. Nobody is truthful about this. They flourish in the underground, like the porn or cocaine industries. There's so much going on that people hardly know about."

Cold War competition
More than a century before Jose Canseco said he and his teammates were shooting up steroids in clubhouse bathrooms, history's first juicer was a 72-year-old French physiologist who tinkered with the testes.

In 1889, Charles-Eduoard Brown-Sequard injected himself with a concoction made from the mashed testicles of dogs and guinea pigs. The elixir, he reported, made him feel stronger and more alert, relieved his constipation and boosted the arc of his urine.

Scientists in Nazi Germany first isolated testosterone in the 1930s by distilling 15,000 liters of urine collected from German police officers. They later synthesized it in the lab. In early animal tests, injections of testosterone restored vitality in castrated roosters.

Following World War II, the Soviet Union applied the German science to its Olympic athletes -- both male and female -- as part of Joseph Stalin's crusade to prove communist superiority through bigger rockets, bigger warheads and bigger muscles.

And that's where John Ziegler came in, seeking a counter-weapon in a Cold War competition against an adversary that no longer exists.

As the team doctor for U.S. weight lifters, Ziegler discovered at the 1954 World Games in Vienna that the Soviets were using testosterone to boost strength. But in addition to lifting incredible amounts of weights, the Soviet athletes also exhibited the hormone's masculinizing side effects, such as testicles that were shrunken and prostates that were so enlarged the athletes had to be catheterized in order to urinate.

Ask any male who has survived puberty, the time in life when hormones rage, about the multiple personalities of testosterone. While it spurs growth in muscle and bones, it also results in such things as facial and body hair, acne and a cracking then a deepening of the voice. It also affects moods and thoughts.

Ziegler, whose father had developed the salt tablet, came from a line of physicians dating back to the Civil War. A Marine officer who had been shot up at Tarawa in World War II, Ziegler lifted weights as part of his rehabilitation. That led to his relationship with York Barbell.

To beat the Russians at their own game, Ziegler found an ally in Ciba Pharmaceuticals of Summit, N.J., which provided him with lab-made testosterone as well as literature on German research.

Testosterone -- a four-ringed molecule made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen -- was tweaked to reduce unwanted effects, such as a ballooning prostate, and to increase its ability to build muscle. The result was Dianabol, a pill form that reduced but never quite eliminated testosterone's side effects.

From the start, it had a cover story. While Ziegler tried it as a way to build muscle, Ciba sold it on the commercial market as a prescription drug to speed recovery from surgery and as a remedy for burned skin and brittle bones.

After trying the stuff on himself, Ziegler sought athletes at York Barbell, which was then the center of the universe for U.S. lifters. The company was founded by ex-Pittsburgher Bob Hoffman, whose legacy as the father of world weightlifting is noted on a state historical marker. That plaque neglects to mention steroids.

The secret weapon
A four-sport athlete, Bill March stood 5-foot-9 and weighed 156 pounds when he graduated from Dallastown (York County) High School in 1958. He lifted weights as a hobby, starting with cinder blocks attached to a metal bar.

"Sports was the only thing that kept me off the streets," March said. March participated in a weightlifting demonstration one night in 1959 at halftime of a benefit basketball game featuring players from the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts. He met Hoffman that night, and an invitation followed to work out at what was then the premier gym in America.

A short time later, March was sent to see Ziegler. He'd drive 110 miles to Ziegler's office in Olney, Md., for workouts on a power rack, which required a maximum exertion of pulling, pressing and doing deep knee bends against a stationary bar. The three movements required full effort for 12 seconds. After essentially 36 seconds of work, he'd drive 110 miles on country roads back to Pennsylvania.

Then came Dianabol, with nary a law or regulation governing its use. "We were experimenting," March said. "He wondered that if it helped burn patients grow skin and helped sick people to recover, what would it do for a healthy person? I never gave it any thought. You're young. You're invincible. It was just another supplement."

The first contest he entered, March failed to reach the finals. But by the end of 1960, after a year of Dianabol-fueled workouts, he out-lifted the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 198-pound weight class. "It works," March said flatly.

Actually, the pill did not spurt muscles the way spinach did for Popeye. In the complex chemistry of the body, testosterone sends messages to muscle cells. In combination with a high protein diet and obsessive workouts, and if taken for a cycle of six weeks, Dianabol acted like a high-powered amino acid. In addition, it cut down the time March needed to recover from workouts, which meant he could lift more often and post more gains.

"It not only builds muscle, it does give you a euphoric feeling," March said.

Ziegler had strict instructions: no more than 15 milligrams of Dianabol per day, six weeks of use followed by five weeks of abstinence, and regular medical checkups that included a liver test every four months.

There was no shortage of volunteers seeking to become bigger, faster and stronger. One was Dick Smith, who was March's personal trainer. Ziegler agreed to supply him with Dianabol as long as doctor's orders were followed.

"Doc wanted to do it right. He was conducting a clinical test," Smith said. "I went from 175 [pounds] to 195 in 11 months, and that was enough for me."

In 1960, Ziegler recruited Lou Riecke, a competitive lifter from New Orleans. After visiting the doctor, Riecke began receiving his test-tube testosterone through the mail. He was told it would help him get the full nutritional value out of his food.

"I thought they were vitamins. I had no idea what they were," Riecke said in a telephone interview. "Nobody knew about it."

Like a couple of astronauts training for the New Frontier of space, March and Riecke were on the cutting edge of anabolic training.

By 1963, March set a world record in the standing bench press with a lift of 354 pounds. At the Pan American games that year, he won a gold medal along with Riecke, who set a world record of his own at 325 pounds in the snatch.

March and Riecke both qualified for the 1964 U.S. Olympic team. Injury prevented Riecke from competing. March matched the lifts of Poland's Ireneusz Palinsky, but he was denied the bronze medal because he weighed more than his competitor.

"We knew the Russians were on something. All the communist bloc countries were doing it," March said. "We didn't know what caused them to gain so much weight and be so far ahead. We heard that they were taking shots of adrenaline backstage, too."

Not only was a he a formidable lifter who could dunk a basketball, March had an eye-catching physique. Although he disliked posing, March won the title of Mr. Universe in 1965 in a competition held in Iran.

That same year, he tried out with Don Shula's Baltimore Colts but failed to make the team. He was also offered a contract with the San Diego Chargers, but he didn't want to move to California.

Later in his nine-year weightlifting career, March also took injections of a different type of steroid -- Deca-Durabolin. One shot would be the equivalent of a week's worth of pills.

"I never gave it any thought. I knew I was getting bigger and stronger. It was just another supplement," said March, who at his last competition weighed 242 pounds and had a 54-inch chest with a 32-inch waist.

March also took amphetamine, commonly known as speed because it stimulates the central nervous system. He may have been one of the first American athletes to participate in his sport on synthetic adrenaline and high testosterone, but he wasn't the last.

Ziegler wasn't just experimenting with steroids, new equipment and isometrics. He also dabbled in hypnosis and biorhythms as training tools for athletes. But over time, Dianabol proved to be the secret. The results were so spectacular that by 1965, Ziegler wrote a letter to Hoffman that said: "It is very, very possible that special training techniques and other devices along with greater physiological knowledge may enable man to achieve physical performances now considered SUPERHUMAN!"


Out of control
In the competitive world of athletics, secrets have a short shelflife. The two questions most frequently asked around the gym were: What is Bill March taking and where can it be obtained?

"It grew from a few people and spread into other sports," March said. "Everybody used it to some extent. All the guys on the [weightlifting] team took Dianabol. It helped all of them. Anybody connected with the Barbell knew what was going on."

As the Dianabol experiment grew, Ziegler would phone in prescriptions to Schultz's Drug Store, which at the time was right around the corner from York Barbell's original location.

The doctor's orders were for 5 milligrams a day for lightweights, 10 milligrams a day for middleweights and 15 milligrams a day for heavyweights, with periodic medical checkups.

While March adhered to the program, he said others started forging Ziegler's name on prescriptions to get more pills, and other doctors were sought to write prescriptions to get out from under Ziegler's control.

"One thing led to another," March said. "Some people figured if one pill helped, what would five do for you? They wanted faster results. Then they started selling it on the side. I'm not going to name names, but I knew what was going on. Guys got caught with their hand in the cookie jar." Added Smith: "For some guys, it's never enough. If a little is good, a whole lot must be better. It started getting out of hand."

And there it was, like a single neutron splitting a uranium atom, creating a burst of energy and radioactive residue while freeing more neutrons to split more atoms. Steroids use became a chain reaction without control rods, both among elite athletes and everyday lifters getting it on an embryonic black market.

Like radiation, steroid use was invisible at first, and the side effects of megadoses were poorly understood.

Ziegler's experiment had gone haywire. "It got out of control real quick," Fair said. "The genie was out of the bottle."

At one point, Ziegler noted that some lifters were swallowing steroids like jelly beans. In his examinations, he saw enlarged prostates and shrunken testicles because, if the male body senses it has too much testosterone, it shuts down natural production and the testicles shrivel. "He said, 'What is it with these simple-minded [idiots]? If that's what they're going to do, I'll write no more prescriptions.' And as far as I know, he didn't," Smith said.

It was too late to stop the outbreak, however. Some lifters in Texas who knew Riecke trekked to York in 1962 because they weren't getting satisfactory results from their workouts. When they returned to Austin, they had bottles of Dianabol.

"This is the secret," they told Terry Todd, a champion power lifter who wrote about the episode in a 1983 article in Sports Illustrated. There was no going back.

As early as 1960, some U.S. lifters used Dianabol during the Olympics, and they were commonplace in the Tokyo Games of 1964.

Dianabol was placed in cereal bowls on the training table of the 1963 San Diego Chargers by the late Alvin Roy, a strength coach who learned Ziegler's steroid secrets while he was the trainer of the U.S. weightlifting team.

President John F. Kennedy, who advocated a program of vim, vigor and vitality for all Americans, was taking testosterone as part of his long list of daily medications.

By 1969, the magazine of The Athletic Congress, now known as USA Track and Field, called Dianabol the "breakfast of champions."

A doctor's legacy

So what happened to the pioneers? March works for a car dealership and lives in rural York County with his second wife and two Great Danes. He was the model for the lifter who adorns the roof of the new York Barbell Co. off Interstate 83 south of Harrisburg.

Riecke still competes in the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games and was a medalist in the sprint events in the 75-79 age category in 2004. He said he stopped taking steroids when he retired from competition in 1964, then later became the first strength coach of the Steelers in 1970. In 2003, he was inducted into the Hall of the Fame of the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, which condemns steroid use as cheating. Smith, 80, is a part-time trainer at a gym in the York area and gives tours of York Barbell's museum. He was a pallbearer at Ziegler's funeral in 1985.

Ziegler, the father of Dianabol, has been demonized for his experiment and compared to Dr. Frankenstein for unleashing a monstrous creation. But March and Smith, who see old teammates once a year at a strong man reunion in New Jersey, have a different view.

"It bothers me that people talk about him and don't know what they're talking about," Smith said.

"I've read things and saw things on TV that try to make Ziegler out to be a villain," March said. "Yes, he put me on those pills. But he was a very caring man. He would never do anything to hurt any of us.

"They checked me every week. I didn't stray from supervision. I never had a problem with it. I don't know of anybody on our team that had a problem. I never heard of any side effects. We didn't overdo it. We didn't abuse it," he added.

As for Ziegler, he wrote a bold print warning about his creation in a 1967 issue of Strength & Health magazine that said: "Androgenic anabolic steroids ... are categorically condemned for the athlete."

In his Sports Illustrated article in 1983, Terry Todd quoted Ziegler as saying: "I decided to try the steroids and the isometric contractions on a few of the top U.S. lifters, but I wish to God now I'd never done it. I'd like to go back and take that whole chapter out of my life." Clearly, he was flummoxed that his work went out of control when lifters began self-experimenting.

"What he regretted most of all was that he didn't become a world famous scientist or a household name. He's way back in the shadows," said Fair. "He was definitely looking for an edge to beat the Russians. I don't think he was driven by money. It wasn't anything diabolical. I think it was ego."

But March never heard a word of regret from his doctor. "Ziegler wishes he would have never invented it? That's an outright lie. He never said that," March said.

Capping the bottle
Over time, the molecular presence of artificial testosterone grudgingly revealed itself.

The International Olympic Committee banned steroids and began testing at the 1976 Montreal Games, a procedure now handled by the World Anti-Doping Association. The National Football League banned steroids in 1983, and testing now includes every player in every NFL camp with random tests year round. The NCAA followed with its own ban in 1986. More than a decade after Congress classified steroids as a controlled substance, Major League Baseball finally began testing in 2002 but did not discipline users until this year.

Does Bill March think he cheated by what is now considered manliness from a pill, even if it was given to him by a doctor, perfected by a pharmacy and approved for commercial use by the Food and Drug Administration? "I think about that now. I didn't at the time. Back then, it was just another training tool," March said.

He did, however, have a heart-to-heart talk with his four children when steroids became publicized. All four of them had careers in uniform: one son served in the Air Force, a son and a daughter took the Marine Corps oath, and another daughter serves as a police officer.

"I don't know if I deserve everything I accomplished," March told them after some introspection.

They reassured him that there were no policies or laws about steroids in the years that he took them, so there was nothing to be ashamed of. But March never advocated steroid use by his children or anyone else. "I would have never started them on anything like that. They were kids. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody. I was out on my own, trying to find my way," March said.

"Adults can make their own choices. But steroids should be kept away from kids. It should never show up in junior high school," he added. "As far as Barry Bonds hitting home runs, if the other guys don't like it, they should either take it or shut up. You still have to hit the ball." John Fair is among those who wish steroids had never seeped into the sports world.

"Athletic competition is a test of the human spirit, the human mind, the human body. It's not a test of the quality of drugs you take." Fair said.

"To me, sports is a noble endeavor, something that improves the body, enhances health and gives you a sense of well-being. Steroids are ruining health and corrupting sports. We see it coming back on baseball. Are today's players worthy champions? Poor Babe Ruth. Poor Henry Aaron. Poor Roger Maris," he added.

But stoppering up the medicine bottle after steroids had such a head start on regulation will be difficult, if not impossible. "It's a societal issue. It's built into the culture," Fair said. "Really, the problem is within us."

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Vince Basile
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 03:42:58 PM »

I wonder what Ziegler would make of what modern bodybuilders, including women, take to win the top professional titles? If taking Dianabol was reckless and dangerous, imagine what risks the pros are taking stacking various drugs for long periods of time? What was once folly has now become complete insanity.

I met Bill March in 1965 when I visited York and stayed there for about a week. I saw him do a standing press of 375 pounds. He had huge thighs as well. I also tried the 3 X 10 seconds isometric contractions holding loaded bars against pins and made some gains and got stronger. I didn't continue with that training because gyms didn't have power racks with two pins on each side. Bill didn't mention that in those days taking pills was considered cheating and so it was kept secret. No one told us about Dianbol while I was at York that year. We read the magazines so eventually everyone suspected what was going on but nobody was talking about it. Those who did experiment kept it a closely guarded secret and shared only with close mates. Why give your competitors an edge?

It was ironic that Bill March did better in bodybuilding competition than in weight lifting. That didn't surprise me because he was a big guy.
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2011, 07:34:25 AM »

I wonder what Ziegler would make of what modern bodybuilders, including women, take to win the top professional titles? If taking Dianabol was reckless and dangerous, imagine what risks the pros are taking stacking various drugs for long periods of time? What was once folly has now become complete insanity.

I met Bill March in 1965 when I visited York and stayed there for about a week. I saw him do a standing press of 375 pounds. He had huge thighs as well. I also tried the 3 X 10 seconds isometric contractions holding loaded bars against pins and made some gains and got stronger. I didn't continue with that training because gyms didn't have power racks with two pins on each side. Bill didn't mention that in those days taking pills was considered cheating and so it was kept secret. No one told us about Dianbol while I was at York that year. We read the magazines so eventually everyone suspected what was going on but nobody was talking about it. Those who did experiment kept it a closely guarded secret and shared only with close mates. Why give your competitors an edge?

It was ironic that Bill March did better in bodybuilding competition than in weight lifting. That didn't surprise me because he was a big guy.


Vince, just curious, how did you determine that March did better in bodybuilding than in weightlifting?                     
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011, 08:00:59 AM »

Going from interviews March has done over the years, I was always under the impression that he very much favored the weight lifting competitions over the physique-type contests.

The FIHC ran a "double" show/event in Tehran, Iran in '65.
According to Bob Hoffman's article in the March, 1966 issue of S&H, March was supposed to have competed in the mid-heavy class, but illness prevented him from making total.
However, the diet March followed in order to make weight - combined with the dehydration from his illness - essentially left him in contest shape.
The article mentions that Bill was quite reluctant in accepting the award.

Hoffman also points out in the article that March won "many" physique contests (with a posing routine that always ended with a backflip), but was/is much more famous for his lifting feats.

I'm not certain in which category March did "better," but most photos you will find of him are from lifting events/sessions, with the only physique shots being from the '65 Universe.
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2011, 09:29:24 AM »

Other contests that March won were:
Mar 4, 1961 Mr. Delaware Valley

Apr 22, 1961 Mr. Middle Atlantic

May 6, 1961 Mr. Pennsylvania

Perhaps he won others that were not reported in the mags?

My files contain many lifting competitions for March and in my opinion his widespread fame in the iron game is lifting based rather than physique based.
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2011, 10:31:38 AM »

According to Strength and Health, March also won:
Mr. Eastern States, Mr. North America, and Mr. Pan American, but I can't find the specific dates.
In 1961, he won first place in category one (the "standing relaxed" part) of the Mr. Universe contest.
At the World's Championships in 1962 he was selected the World's Best Developed Weightlifter.

Evidently, March concentrated exclusively on bodybuilding for about five years until Grimek and Ziegler began working with him.
March's own account indicates that, "From that time on, everything just seemed to grow."
I would attribute at least part of that fact to Ziegler's "experimental vitamins."

Nonetheless, March was often considered unusual in that he had quite a respectable physique for a "weightlifter."

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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2011, 11:06:45 AM »

Often, as you know, titles were attributed without dates- sometimes without years being mentioned, let alone month or day.

I prefer to attribute what can be proven, not merely claimed.

There was a central Illinois man who told the newspaper in this area that he was a former Mr. America. He was not.

So, in my files whenever a contest is attributed and I cannot substantiate it, I follow the title with a question mark.

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Vince Basile
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 05:29:19 PM »

Vince, just curious, how did you determine that March did better in bodybuilding than in weightlifting?                      


Bill won a FICH Mr Universe title. Okay, it wasn't NABBA but it was still a world title. He beat Craig Whitehead in that competition. He didn't win a world title in weightlifting.

Of course his accomplishments in weightlifting were more impressive. It is just ironical that he won a bodybuilding title. I am sure he would have preferred to have won an Olympic gold or world weightlifting championship.


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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2011, 06:37:19 PM »

I did a research papaer on this very story back in high school and later revised it for college.

people juicing in 1945? NO. vets had testosterone back in the 1800's for animals. The USA didn't know of human grade AAS use until the mid/late 50's. The soviets were kicking our ass (butts) in olympic weightlifting. the US coach went to russia to learn of training tech and that is where the drink story takes place and information exchanged. the knowledge came back with the coach and Zeigler developed dbol. Human grade testosteron was gathered from the puitary gland of cadavars. expensive to produce. it's not like the US olympic team did dbol for a wk in rome and lost. they did it for years and lost. when all things are equal genetics win. AAS didn't get to the general public until the very late 60's and early 70's.

......how could testosterone be extracted from a pituitary gland?
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2011, 07:00:19 PM »

......how could testosterone be extracted from a pituitary gland?


I saw that, too.
Perhaps there is/was some confusion between testosterone and hGH.
 Huh
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