The Former Competitor: Fakhri Mubarak
Occupation: IFBB pro and contest-prep specialist
Location: New York City
At 16, I started training with weights, and I trained naturally until I was 26. By the time I was 20 or 21, I was helping my friends get ready for shows, because I had more knowledge than most people did. This was the early ’90s, and there was no internet. We didn’t have these commercial gyms—you only had hardcore gyms. You almost had to be in the fraternity, you know? I was a young kid who busted his ass. I wasn’t a pretty boy. One Friday night—the gym closes at 10—I was training, and the staffers were like, “You can stay if you want.” All the little guys were leaving. And this guy hands me a bottle of Anadrol 50, which is a mass-building drug—a very strong oral steroid.
“How much for the bottle?” I ask. “$250,” he tells me.
I say, “How much is this shit at GNC?”
June 2000 was the first time I touched anything. Very basic stuff—500 milligrams of testosterone, 400 of EQ [Equipoise], 50 of Anavar, and 40 of clenbuterol.
In one month, I gained about 28 pounds. I was 5’5″, 200 pounds before that, and people were like, “He’s taking.” Then I went to the beach for the Fourth of July that year, and everybody was like, “Holy shit, you were natural.” So I decided to do a show that November. I added a couple of more things, like 50 milligrams of Winstrol to dry out, and 400 milligrams of tren (trenbolone) for more mass. I finished third in the open, won the novice overall, and people were like, “You have a lot of potential.”
Then I went to Nationals in 2001 to watch. I thought, “You know what? I think I can go pro.” So I ran the same cycle. At the 2003 Nationals, I took fourth. I added Arimedex and Proviron, both to fight estrogen, and kicked my testosterone up to 750. I was up to 230 to 240 pounds but dropped down to light-heavyweight. I won the overall.
Back then, I got my blood work checked every four to six months. Eighteen years later, I’m still cycling, and I won’t go more than six months without getting my blood checked. If my liver enzymes are too high, if my kidneys are off, I know I’ve got to come down. Every five months, I’ll take 40 days off. But I know 10 people who have had kidney failure and seen a lot of people die. There’s no direct link to a death by steroids. But if you have a predisposition to something, then, yes, steroids increase the risk factors. Doctors will blame steroids for everything if you’re a bodybuilder. But everybody should see a doctor. And if you lie to a doctor, you’re a fool.
I tell clients, “This is your decision. I’m not gonna push anything on you. Whatever you want to take, research it.” We’ll run their blood work. Do complete hormonal and metabolic panels. Often, you can see when someone is abusing steroids. [Common symptoms include distended gut, back acne, and “bitch tits,” aka gynecomastia.—Ed.]
Unfortunately, for most bodybuilders, steroid use is a real addiction. Even when the doctor tells you something is wrong, you don’t feel pain and you feel good. So you keep going. You’re used to people looking at you in a certain way. You’re used to buying triple-XL T-shirts, you know? I haven’t competed in a long time, and people still look at me and say, “Holy shit, you’re fucking huge.”