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This is a story that had to be told. As most everyone who has been involved with bodybuilding for any appreciable amount of time knows, the business of supplements has a history fraught with deceit and deception. The very term "snake oil," a colloquial expression used to describe any fraudulent product, stems from the days of the traveling salesman of the nineteenth century who sold "tonics" and "elixirs" to gullible townsfolk with the promise of increased vigor and vitality. The marketing strategies of today's hucksters may be more sophisticated, but the message is the same. If you want more (fill in the blank... Muscle? Hair? Stamina? Sex?), then BUY THIS PRODUCT! When people are hopeful to the point of desperation for a specific desire, they are willing to take esperate measures to obtain that desire. That often means paying "any price." And the people doing the selling know this. That's why they pay famous athletes millions to endorse their products. But isn't it dumb to believe a new product is responsible for the athletes past successes? Nevertheless, the ploy works.

Nowhere is this premise more prevalent than in the industry of bodybuilding supplements. We've seen them come - and we've seen them go. Ambiguous terms like "adaptagens" and "metabolic optimizers" that were major "buzz words" just a few years back, appear amusingly quaint compared to the more scientific terminology currently in vogue. Then again, it's a good bet that ten years from now, we may all be laughing at how seriously we debated the superiority of ion-exchanged ultra low temperature bio-available micro-encapsulated protein with non-denatured
triple cross flow filtrated long chained oligopeptide bonded enzymically hydrolyzed protein isolate!


To get a better perspective on how all of this got so out of control, let's take a look back at a time up until the late seventies when the supplement industry was dominated by Joe Weider and Bob Hoffman. Both of these men controlled virtually every aspect of bodybuilding merchandise. Of the two, Weider saw the greater potential in promoting "muscle stars" whereas Hoffman's affinity leaned more towards weightlifting contests. Weider's gamble of scooping up the most genetically gifted bodybuilders paid off big time. He placed them under contract with the stipulation that they would unquestioningly pay allegiance to the "Weider philosophy"  which essentially meant that Weider could put any words in their mouth that he saw fit. Those words were most often an all encompassed endorsement that owed all of their success to using Weider products. Although some of the original participants in these agreements have since blasted Weider's smarmy ways, there were no "arm twisting" tactics employed. They knew what they were getting into. Business is business. Arnold Schwarzenegger was well aware of this and was more than willing to enter into an agreement with Weider. Arnold was also shrewd enough to take it for what it was worth - a stepping stone. After all, at the time, Weider was pretty much the only game in town.
Despite the different marketing tactics of Weider and Hoffman, their supplement products were not very dissimilar. Besides vitamin pills, desiccated liver tablets, brewers yeast and other health related substances (some of dubious value), the crux of their supplement line was PROTEIN. They were each trying every conceivable way to sell as many versions of the same protein product as possible. A weight gain formula was something used in addition to ones regular meals. A "weight loss" product was used in place of a meal. It was the same thing with only the application altered. (Not unlike the "MASS" version and the "lite" versions of the same product being used today.) Be it pills, powders or canned drinks, (which tasted awful) both Weider and Hoffman used the same source for all of their protein products. Soy. It was over 90% protein. It mixed well. It was flavorless....and it was cheap.


While Weider cornered the supplement buying public by utilizing his magazines to bombard the readers with articles that always seemed to get around to plugging a Weider product, there was a young nutitionist/chemist that was taking the concepts of supplementation a lot more seriously. Irwin Johnson believed that the first food we ingest to induce growth, mothers milk, would also encourage more muscle growth in adults. Enzymes found in milk such as colostrum and lactoferrin were also thought to have powerful immune system enhancing properties. He came to the conclusion that cows milk did not have the same amino ratios that human milk possessed and set about "manipulating" the amino acid complex by mixing specific amounts of dried whole egg into the whole milk protein. Johnson was also the first supplement manufacturer who understood the importance of hormones in the development of muscle tissue and discovered that the fat in milk could increase hormonal production. For this reason, he recommended that his protein be taken with cream. He insisted that no one implementing his program should eat fruit of any
kind! The nutritional authorities at the time scoffed at Johnson's theories and were convinced that the liberal use of cream would add unwanted fat. As it turned out, Johnson's clients were losing fat at an alarming rate! What Johnson was advocating was strikingly similar to what is now known as the ketogenic diet. Variations of Johnson's plan are known as the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, and the high fat diet. Whatever you call it, it was a low carb, high protein, high fat strategy for ultimate muscle growth and optimum fat loss - and it worked.

Health faddists, celebrities and professional bodybuilders from around the country flocked to Johnson for his expertise and his protein product. Training guru Vince Gironda, as well as IFBB stars like Larry Scott, Frank Zane, Dave Draper, and yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger who all received Weider supplements at no charge, were paying top dollar for Johnson's "mother's milk " protein.
Johnson was an eccentric man and a staunch believer in the occult. On the advice of his astrologer, he was told that in order to be successful he would need to change  the amount of letters in his name and add more "R"s. (?) By the time Johnson was ready to sell his product nationwide, it carried his new name, Rheo. H. Blair.

Those "in the know" may have been aware that the Rheo Blair brand of protein was far superior to the cheap soy powder used by Hoffman and Weider, but Weider had the money and, therefore, the influence. Blair was of little threat. Weider, with his stable of stars, now being led by the charismatic Arnold Schwarzenegger, was riding high. With the release of PUMPING IRON in 1976, gym memberships soared! This was a boon to bodybuilding but a mixed blessing to bodybuilding manufacturers since the sales of home gym equipment declined! Supplements now became the
focal point of all sales pitches within the muscle magazines. But the supplement business had an even stiffer competitor. Anabolic steroids.


In the early 1980's, steroids had amassed manic popularity among professional and non-professional bodybuilders alike. They were abundant and available. The cost of 100 Dianabol was less than that of a Weider Mega Pak box of vitamins. Want to take a guess as to which produced more muscle? As more and more reports of steroid abuse prevailed, the government stepped in and  randed all anabolics controlled substances. This was a perfect opportunity for supplement manufacturers to "fill the gap." As Dan Duchaine has said, "People really wanted drugs but were too scared to buy them." Many bodybuilders who wanted to maintain their "drug free" status still wanted "drug-like" effects.
Mysterious sounding compounds started coming out of the woodwork. Or more specifically, Russia. Americans had always suspected that the Russian athletes were privy to "super nutrients" that gave them the competitive edge. Supplements with steroidal sounding names like RETIBOL, MESOBOLIN, DIOSTEROL and DICOBALONE 5 - emerged faster than the research on them could be evaluated. New supplement companies started springing up, and turned a handsome profit by marketing these substances with the promise of "steroid-like gains." There was Smilax and Dibencozide and Gamma Oryzanal. We saw DMG, Inosine, Inositol, Boron, plus a host of herbal and glandular extracts all with purportedly peculiar ergogenic and anabolic properties. At first, the Weiders ignored the "johnny come latelys" but it soon became apparent that they were going to have to move over and let the new kids on the block in on a piece of the action. The competition had arrived and it was here to stay.


It was right around this time that a small family owned company had a brainstorm. Tom Ciola came up with the idea of using ALL of the popular ingredients and combining them in a freeze dried glandular protein base. (yum) Herbs like Yohimbe were added for their "stimulative" effect so the consumer would "feel" the concoction working. He called it HOT STUFF and it became an overnight success. Hot Stuff flew off the shelves! Stores couldn't restock fast enough. It seemed as if a supplement finally had been developed that mimicked the effects of steroids. Was it a synergistic effect of all the combined nutrients that made Hot Stuff so effective? Or was it something more?
There have been accusations alluded to by several unrelated sources (who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons) that in order for HOT STUFF to make sure its initial release would create a stir, it would contain an additional ingredient not listed on the can. Something that would leave no doubt of its effectiveness in the user's mind. Something that would bring them back for more. Rumor has it that the original batches of Hot Stuff contained methyltestosterone.

Methyltestosterone is an inexpensive form of orally absorbable testosterone that works quickly and effectively to raise strength and aggression. It is also extremely liver toxic. It would appear to be a good choice as an added ingredient for another reason. It is undetectable in a drug test. The "insiders" theory is that even if the FDA somehow found out about the drug being used, all the canisters would already be sold. An inspection of the National Health facility (makers of Hot Stuff) would show no wrong doing. There has never been any evidence found to substantiate these
claims. They do seem far fetched to say the least but there was a period when Hot Stuff was pulled from the shelves for reasons that have always been mired in ambiguity. There was a new and improved version released shortly thereafter but anyone familiar with the "first" Hot Stuff will tell you that the new one never quite duplicated the characteristic "kick" of the original.

Our own consumer watchdog, Bruce Kneller, has a theory that it may have been the National Health people themselves that started the whole methyltest rumor in an effort to make the product appear more illicit. This would appeal to the hardcore bodybuilder "wannabe's" thus generating more interest and a solid consumer base. I contacted the people at National Health in an effort for them to present their side of the story concerning these allegations. They never returned my calls.


Running simultaneously to the ever changing tumult within the supplement industry was a flourishing black market. Steroids were still very much in demand despite their illegality. In many ways, because of it. They had become forbidden fruit. More and more bodybuilders became anxious to get their hands on the real stuff that Big Brother declared taboo
One of the main men on the west coast for steroid connections was Dan Duchaine. Dan was more than just a drug dealer, however. Both he and a friend who was also an expert in performance enhancement use, Mike Zumpano, had a keen interest in the science and chemistry of steroids which led to their co-authoring the original Underground Steroid Handbook. Mike chose to stay in the background and his name was not mentioned in the book. He had already begun making plans to market his own developments in the area of natural supplementation. If the same money could be made legally, why take the risk of dealing in drugs? Duchaine followed suit but in his case it was too late. Duchaine eventually went to prison. After being released he was arrested and convicted a second time for the possession of less than $100 worth of GHB.
Mike Zumpano was a master of technology. He invented the very first glucose polymer product. (Metacarb) He was also the man who found an application for MCT oils, a fat that was treated by the body like a carb. When he presented a MCT/ Protein product to the Weider company, they thought it too weird and expensive. They passed. The Unipro company picked up on Mike's product (titled Carboplex) and he continued to develop others for the company but Unipro eventually stopped payment on Mike's royalties. He decided to start his own company, Champion Nutrition, and made improved versions of the products he sold to Unipro. He  exploited the weaknesses in the Unipro products and this once industry leading company degraded to a small operation on the brink of collapse. In the meantime, Mike Zumpano was living large, traveling about town in his Ferrari Testarosa (paid for in cash).
Mike also had a hand in helping Dan Duchaine develop Ultimate Orange. A loophole in FDA regulations allowed herbal combinations of caffeine and ephedra to be used. Yes, they were drugs, but they were legal. Needless to say, Ultimate Orange had a very noticeable "energizing" effect!

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