Big Brown’s loss at Belmont Park put a spotlight on drug use in horse racing. While it is legal in horse racing in most states, the owners of Big Brown took an unprecedented step. There are many parallels in bodybuilding. If you substituted the word bodybuilding for horse racing in the article, it would have been about many of the same drugs and the same problems. What hasn’t happened in bodybuilding is no “owner” has taken the step that Big Browns owners did. They not only began withdrawing all performance enhancing substances from Big Brown but also from their entire stable of fifty horses. They did this for the integrity of the sport and the health of the horses. Now there’s a novel idea.
Today, sports and integrity are rarely in the same sentence. The owners of Big Brown called upon the other owners to join them in this step to “turn the game around,” to share their global vision. Let’s see if short term greed prevails or do the rest follow the lead of these global thinkers.
In horse racing, as in competitive bodybuilding, it’s about competition and the competitor demanding a level playing field. The problem is always how to insure that level playing field. If the horses “slow down equally” it’s the same race. If the bodybuilder loses 20-30 lbs. of muscle, it’s a different game. Would the fans come to see “smaller bodybuilders”? That is usually the question. What do the fans want? I know what the bodybuilders want; it is that level playing field. I have never met one competitive bodybuilder who liked taking the chemical load that is required to compete at the top. One way or another, I feel that genetics and hard work would continue to rule but the physiques would look different.
There is another parallel to horses: it’s obvious that the drug enhanced strength/muscle mass of the horses have contributed to the injury and death of these beautiful animals. Is there anyone out there who believes that a bodybuilder weighing 250-280 pounds at average height is healthy? Is bigger, better?