On May 7, 2020, the bodybuilding community lost a rising star with the passing of open bodybuilding competitor Luke Sandoe. Following a big year of shows, including a third-place finish at the 2019 Arnold Classic and an 11th-place finish at his first Olympia in 2019, his death was unexpected and shook the bodybuilding community. Fellow competitors and others in the industry took to social media to remember the vibrant young Brit as a funny, kind-hearted soul who could always lighten the mood.

But in all the heartfelt posts and loving messages, Sandoe’s cause of death was never confirmed by his family. Many close to him alluded to or outright stated that Sandoe took his own life, but his family released a statement via his Instagram account on Aug. 3, 2020 — what would have been his 32nd birthday — to correct those rumors and reveal that his cause of death was actually heart failure.

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Luke Sandoe 3/8/88-7/5/20 ❤️

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While we can only assume no one meant any harm by posting statements based on the unfounded rumors, Sandoe’s family made it clear that doing so made coping with his unexpected passing even more difficult.

“No official cause of death was released which resulted in unfounded speculation and rumour,” the statement reads. “We can only assume this was the reason for the inaccurate posts purporting to ‘know’ how Luke lost his life. Such posts, discussions and comments have caused us additional and unnecessary suffering.”

Without getting specific, the family also expressed disdain at the realization that “Luke was perhaps, little more than a business opportunity” for promoters, sponsors, and organizers in the bodybuilding industry, and that his wellbeing wasn’t a priority to them. The post seems to insinuate that his actual cause of death, heart failure, was a result of his health taking a backseat over the course of his career, and his family urges others to take care of themselves.

They added that they’re grateful for the support from Luke’s fans and followers, who reached out with comments, cards, messages, and donations to support his children following his passing.

“Our wish now is for Luke and his legacy to be respected and remembered for the extraordinary father, athlete, and human that he was.”