There are thousands – perhaps millions – of athletes around the world dedicated to the sport of natural bodybuilding and to the concept of being the best that they can be without the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Yet, despite the wholesome example that these athletes symbolize to the public of what can be accomplished naturally, the use of PEDs – especially among our young people – has exploded to epidemic proportions. Natural bodybuilders naively believe that their example should be enough to dissuade others from using PEDs. It isn’t.
Unfortunately, the best physiques of our great natural champions are not enough to offset the freakish – often caricaturistic – physical development of untested athletes competing in today’s steroid culture. In addition, many natural bodybuilders, who would not typically socialize with cocaine addicts or crack users, openly associate with bodybuilders who use PEDs as though it didn’t mean anything. They work out with them, accept their advertising in their magazines, post their pictures on their websites, use them to endorse their products, name contests after them, buy tickets to go see them on stage, and more. They justify all of this by saying that PEDs are “different” despite the fact that they are illegal, unethical, and dangerous.
Most natural bodybuilders don’t consider PEDs the same as other illicit drugs. PEDs are somehow “different” – they don’t have the same sense of impropriety. While natural bodybuilders might typically avoid people – even their closest friends – who snort cocaine to enhance their senses, they do not similarly shun people who use PEDs to enhance their bodies. An interesting dichotomy.
In other words, natural bodybuilders typically walk the walk, but they don’t talk the talk. Except for not using PEDs themselves, they tacitly approve the use of PEDs by their open acceptance of those who do as long as they don’t have to compete against them. Their commitment to natural bodybuilding is limited to their own participation in the sport.
Regrettably, most natural bodybuilders consider PEDs only from the moral perspective of cheating and not from the legal and medical perspective. As a result, notwithstanding their own personal commitment to competing drug-free, natural bodybuilders and the organizations they represent, do very little to try to educate the public about the dangers of PEDs. Their commitment is related only to the sport of natural bodybuilding and not to the broader problem of PEDs.
Yet, more than any other sport, natural bodybuilding represents a unique platform to educate people about the dangers of PEDs, and education will attract greater public appreciation – and recognition – for the sport. Instead of being forever relegated to second-class status behind bodybuilding’s drug culture, natural bodybuilding could become the new standard for the sport instead of the other way around.
No one is more committed to education – and separating facts from fiction – than parents who have lost a child to steroids because they don’t want it to happen to someone else. Such a parent is Don Hooton.
Don had a successful 33-year career in the telecommunications software business before founding The Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF) in 2004 in memory of his son Taylor E. Hooton who died after using steroids. The Taylor Hooton Foundation is now the only entity, public or private, in North America dedicated to educating young people and their adult influencers about the dangers of APEDs.
Since founding this organization, Don has become the leading national spokesman on the issue of appearance and performance enhancing drug use by our nation’s youth. He has spoken directly to several hundred thousand people across the country, appeared as an expert witness before Congress on three occasions, regularly meets with Federal Government officials, has met with several governors, and spoken to multiple state legislatures. In addition, he has appeared on a number of national and international TV and radio programs to discuss this important topic.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation fills a void where the natural bodybuilding movement has been lacking by providing important education about performance enhancing drugs. Working together, we can teach more young people how to succeed in sports – and in life – without drugs. At the same time the natural bodybuilding community might learn something too.