Celebs Who Have Admitted To Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

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The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. But what Hollywood stars have been talking about since they saw Brad Pitt's chiseled abs in the 1999 pulp classic is: how can I get a physique like that!? Pitt moved the goalposts for what actors aspire to when preparing for big roles for over two decades now. But just like Tyler Durden's ageless hairline, most stars simply don't have his god-like genetics for lean muscle mass. Hmm. What to do?

Another problem celebrities face preparing for on-camera action is time, in two parts: Christian Bale has had full-body transformations in the past and has claimed he gained 100 pounds in only 6 months between his emaciated role in The Machinist to his muscle-bound appearance in Batman Begins. But aging itself is also a running clock. Testosterone, the male hormone essential to Marvel-movie-worthy muscles, can decline at nearly 3% a year after a man peaks around age 18. Considering many movie stars don't reach maximum earnings until age 50 — something drastic must be done.

The proliferation of jaw-dropping body transformations in Hollywood of late is quite... interesting. Perhaps it's a coincidence LA County has legalized "anti-aging" clinics, dispensing steroids like Tic Tacs that were once only available in the alley behind certain Venice gyms. But just like Fight Club, no one is talking about it. Well, almost no one. Some stars are fessing up. These are celebs who have admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Joe Rogan experiences PED side effects

Joe Rogan – a.k.a. Oprah for dudes — has been whispering in the ear of a generation of young men on his wildly popular podcast, which netted him a $100 million deal with Spotify in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal. But part of the comedian and UFC color commentator's appeal certainly has something to do with his absolutely stacked physique, which the lifelong martial artist and former TaeKwonDo champion shows off online.

But The Joe Rogan Experience also includes steroids. As Rogan once revealed on his show, "I take testosterone replacement therapy, and I've done it for almost ten years ... I started when I was 37 [or] 38 ... what I do is I take what I would have in my body naturally when I was like 27."

Along with TRT, Rogan also says he uses HGH, or human growth hormone, which is available from legal anti-aging clinics in Los Angeles. And perhaps it's evident. Rogan shocked fans revealing a bulging and severely bloated gut in 2019 he attributed to falling off his diet. However, a distended belly in otherwise buff individuals is also a known side-effect of HGH abuse, according to Health Research Policy. This is often called colloquially "bubble gut," or Palumboism — named after professional bodybuilder Dave Palumbo who suffered from a severe case of the condition. Say it ain't so, Joe. 

The rundown on The Rock's steroid use

The swole silver-screen successor to Arnold Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The guy's IMDb page is as full as his muscle bellies, and it's hard to imagine this many action-hero projects without his famous physique. But The Rock admits he had some help along the way, "I tried it," Johnson said of steroids during an interview with MTV News in 2009. "Me and my buddies tried it back in the day when I was 18 or 19. Didn't know what we were doing."

Back then, The Rock was just a portly defensive lineman for the University of Miami Hurricanes where he won a national championship but ultimately lost his starting job to all-time NFL great Warren Sapp — which may have influenced his decision to become an entertainer. WWE fame followed, and he says steroid use was rampant in both sports and sports-entertainment, "But we have to recognize that a culture was created where it was OK to do that, and a lot of team managers, owners, players who didn't do it would turn the other cheek."

The actor, who turned 48 in 2020, does not say if he continues performance-enhancing drug use but has dramatically increased his size and leanness at an age when mortal men are sliding into the terminal stages of permanent dad-bod — caused by the natural decline in testosterone. Fans can only guess what exactly he's cooking these days.

Arnold Schwarzenegger totally recalls using steroids

Maybe this one is obvious considering at the highest levels of bodybuilding — the IFBB regulated Mr. Olympia contest — there is no in-competition steroid testing, according to The New York Times. So the greatest physique athlete in history, a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, has been honest about what it took to become known as the Austrian Oak. "I have no regrets about it," Arnold Schwarzenegger told ABC News in 2006, adding, "because at that time, it was something new that came on the market, and we went to the doctor and did it under doctors' supervision. We were experimenting with it. It was a new thing. So you can't roll the clock back and say, 'Now I would change my mind on this.'"

Schwarzenegger was also candid about his steroid use while he was still competing back in 1977, telling 60 Minutes, "I take them. I took them. Up until the competition." He went on to explain it's so ubiquitous in the sport it's basically a must, "It was something everybody had to do in order to get an equal chance to compete." In his later life, though, the Terminator actor also acknowledges the downside, arguing it sends the "wrong message" to children.

50 Cent has the testosterone of many men

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has been the subject of many PED rumors surrounding his many radical body transformations. Fitty was fairly fluffy before debuting his ripped physique in his breakout hit In Da Club in 2003. The rapper even took a page from Christian Bale and dropped nearly 55 pounds from his muscular frame in 2010 for his role as a football player battling cancer in Things Fall Apart. He later packed on the pounds showing off a seriously impressive bench press routine for a role in the ABC prison drama For Life. Some may call foul though considering the then 44-year-old mogul hits more reps at 225 pounds than elite NFL lineman working out at the combine. 

But perhaps there's an explanation. In 2008, 50 Cent was named by The Times Union of Albany (via The New York Times) along with Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean, and Tyler Perry in a steroid investigation that alleged the stars had received or used performance-enhancing drugs. Officials didn't accuse any of the artists of breaking the law but rather were looking into a network of "anti-aging clinics" illegally dispensing drugs like human growth hormone without actually seeing patients in person. 50, however, claims that even during his youth as a drug dealer he never used illegal drugs and has artfully dodged questions specific to steroids.

Jeremy Jackson takes a stab at a comeback

Jeremy Jackson grew up before our eyes as the plucky Hobie Buchannon on Baywatch — and so did his traps. But before his steroid-induced body transformation, the star developed a devastating recreational drug addiction. "I smoked pot every day, and I did cocaine until it stopped working," he admitted during the filming of Child Star Confidential (via People). In his early 20s, things had spiraled so severely that he was arrested for setting up a meth lab in his home.

Compulsive drug use was only the beginning of Jackson's problems. He attempted a career comeback in the mid-aughts setting his sights on becoming the next Sylvestor Stallone. "It started out innocent enough — you know, gym, trainers, acting class, but having that addict mentality, for a guy like me, it's just not fast enough," the star admitted on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2011. "I've spent at least $200,000 in the last three years strictly on steroids and pills and injections," he confessed. "I do these human growth hormone injections ... These are normally for AIDS patients or cancer patients or people recovering from serious surgeries."

Jackson was again arrested in 2015 for stabbing a man and then fleeing the scene — and was later caught while "allegedly burglarizing an Airbnb" (via TMZ). The former child star told the outlet that the stabbing was in self-defense when a man tried to rob him during a party at gunpoint.

Spencer Matthews confronts the reality of steroid abuse

One thing that can get overlooked in the steroid conversation is that they can become a highly addictive drug of abuse. While steroids don't produce the "high" or "euphoria" like other drugs, roids can absolutely change the way you look for the better — even without training — and hence improve the way you feel about yourself. That positive feedback loop can be extremely habit-forming, according to the Addiction Center.

And that's precisely what happened to Made In Chelsea star and notably fit hunk, Spencer Matthews, who admitted to BBC's Newsbeat in 2016 that he started a steroid cycle "completely out of vanity." He went on to say he just wanted to "look good in the shower." Matthews elaborated on the subject while on Good Morning Britain, where he revealed he was first introduced to steroids while training for a boxing match and naively, "didn't look into it at all."

And this may be true because the small-screen star with the oversized pecs revealed he was using oral steroids — which is a terrible idea. Oral anabolics, unlike more typically indicated steroid injections, have to be digested and therefore processed by the liver. This has been shown to cause both severe liver damage and even cancer. "It was a pill every day and that's just how I saw it," Mathews said. "I was under the impression recreational use of steroids was fine, especially as they seem to be, very worryingly, readily available."

Sylvester Stallone is not so sly about using HGH

Sylvester Stallone might be as responsible for creating the archetype of the jacked action hero as anyone alive. From Rocky to Rambo, Sly was absolutely shredded, hold the cheese. And at well over 70 years old, the movie star is still more diced than a julienne salad.

Perhaps not too shockingly, the septuagenarian may be taking more than his daily dose of Ensure. In 2007, Sly was convicted of smuggling human growth hormone into Australia when customs officials found 48 vials of HGH in his luggage. Investigators witnessed him ditching vials of testosterone off his hotel balcony. Stallone later admitted he was packing an HGH product called Jintropin for an on-location shoot where he needed to look his best. "As you get older, the pituitary gland slows and you feel older, your bones narrow. This stuff gives your body a boost and you feel and look good," he admitted to customs officials according to The Guardian. "Doing Rambo is hard work."

Stallone's ex-wife, former supermodel Janice Dickinson, now mostly known for odd public behavior, claims Sly was sauced all the way back to the '90s and wanted her to share the benefits. "He juiced me. I'd wake up and my arm was as big as Popeye — steroids, testosterone, all that stuff," she told Fox News in 2015. Stallone's rep has vigorously denied this outlandish claim and it should be noted injecting steroids does not immediately give you arms like Popeye.

Charlie Sheen was as strong as two and a half men

What kind of world is this if Charlie "Tiger Blood" Sheen doesn't get juiced to portray a baseball player smack in the middle of the MLB steroid era? This man is method, people. And in 1989, Sheen suited up to play Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaugh, a near-sighted ex-con with a helluva heater, in the classic sports comedy Major League. "Let's just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit. It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did it for like six or eight weeks ... My fastball went from 79 to like 85," Sheen told Sports Illustrated in 2011.

Sheen also admits the extra testosterone wasn't particularly helpful for his mood, especially when people were giving him guff about his famous Wild Thing coif. "Well, I wasn't doing enough to be completely insane — just a little bi***ier than normal. When you combine the haircut with all of those comments, you've got a recipe for disaster."

Sheen claims he's been off that particular potion since '89, despite his widely enthusiastic advocacy for crack use during his infamous "winning" phase as he partied his way across the nation in 2011's Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour. The Two and a Half Men star has been at times coy about his substance abuse and then moments later, totally candid. But his ripped physique seen here in his mid-40s during the height of his depravity raises some questions.

The Mountain summons the power of all the roids

Many have wondered if there's something in the frozen waters of Iceland for a tiny island nation to produce so many world-class strength athletes. It turns out, yes: steroids. And maybe it's not a giant surprise the current and quite literal strongest man in the world, Game of Thrones star Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, better known as "The Mountain," is also on a mountain of gear. The gargantuan 6'9" 452-pound goliath holds the world deadlift record, easily pulling over 1104 pounds in 2020 and was the first human to win the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe's Strongest Man and World's Strongest Man in the same year. True Viking power. 

But Thor, as he's often known, wasn't always the giant you see today. You can't teach 6'9" your high school basketball coach might say — but the muscles — that's another story. As recently as 2006, The Mountain, a former basketball player himself, was more like The Beanpole. But when the formerly skinny hooper was asked if he used steroids to stimulate his incredible transformation, "Yes, I have. When you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes." he told ESPN in 2017. When asked if he continues his performance-enhancing cycle, the suddenly laconic giant felt he'd revealed enough, "Can we just skip those questions?" No one dared prod him any further.

Nick Nolte just wants the fountain of youth

Gravelly-voiced thespian Nick Nolte says he started using PEDs in his 60's to help smooth the sands of time — if not the sandpaper in his throat. He growled in the direction of a reporter from WWD that he regularly jabs testosterone into his buttocks and injects human growth hormone into his stomach. A profile of Nolte in Esquire from 1999 paints a picture of the actor as essentially a chain-smoking mad scientist searching for the fountain of youth in his basement as he experiments on himself with various compounds he orders online. It's worth a look. 

The Cape Fear actor is also not too worried about research showing that extra testosterone in your golden years can lead to prostate cancer. "That's a farce," the human biology hobbyist muttered during a 2005 interview with Women's Wear Daily. "I'm not talking about taking large amounts of testosterone to increase muscle mass. I'm just talking about putting yourself back into the normal range because your testosterone levels start dropping at the age of 20."

Oliver Stone is Vladimir dopin

Oliver Stone is another boomer loving the benefits of exogenous hormones — a.k.a. those coming from outside the body. The famously conspiracy-minded septuagenarian auteur of classics such as Platoon and Wall Street (both starring fellow steroid aficionado Charlie Sheen) also "extol[s] the anti-aging benefits of HGH" according to The Hollywood Reporter. This coming from a man — awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his bravery in Vietnam — who didn't expect a long life, "I never thought I'd make it to 70," the war hero turned anti-war filmmaker said. "We'll see where we go from here," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2016.

But here he is, pushing past 70, and the director remains so vigorous — with a little supplemental assistance — he wrapped two years of grueling one-on-one interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2017. This is no task for a man lacking vitality. If that's not all, he also dropped a documentary on the fraught situation in Ukraine in 2019. Side effects of HGH may include spending your golden years with allegedly murderous dictators.

Suzanne Somers, thyroid master

Thighmaster aficionado Suzanne Somers long ago transitioned from archetypal girl next door in Three's Company to anti-aging profit — and profiteer — proffering all manners of potions, tonics and informal learnings based on her own "research" — which, according to her, involves calling friendly doctors and asking for cherry-picked anecdotes to back up her various theories. The actress, who, at the time of this writing, is 73, says she takes some 60 vitamins and supplements every day, has no scientific credentials or higher education beyond an unfinished bachelor's degree but has written at least 25 different books full of various longevity philosophies, including 2020's not-so-succinctly titled, A New Way to Age: The Most Cutting-Edge Advances in Antiaging.

In 2001 Somers revealed a scary breast cancer diagnosis but claimed she was forgoing chemotherapy to heal herself with unproven mistletoe therapy. Her rep later admitted (via WebMD) she did undergo surgery and radiation but still hocked a book full of dangerous pseudoscience that advocated more "alternative" treatments to people battling deadly cancers. She's also a fan of advising women against getting mammograms.

It's in this context — whatever the merits of HGH — Somers stans human growth hormone for anti-aging, including it in her vast daily regimen. "Once I started adding HGH to the concoction, I don't have trouble with my weight, I sleep eight hours a night, everything is working as though my body was working at its healthiest optimal prime," she told Anderson Cooper in 2012.