Lahore: Four prominent bodybuilders have died over the past few weeks in Pakistan.

Hamid Ali, alias Gujju passed away in Lahore on April 3, the day after he clinched a bronze medal in South Asian contest. He died of cardiac arrest.

Humayon Khan was another bodybuilder to breathe his last from a cardiac arrest. He had won titles of Mr Lahore, Mr Punjab, and Mr Pakistan. He had recently secured Gold Medal in the South Asian BodyBuilding Championship 2016.

Mohammad Rizwan, a trainer in Gujranwala, had also died in a similar condition.

The last in the row, Matloob Ahmed, the aspiring bodybuilder, too met an instant death.

The death of these prominent bodybuilders in a span of one month raised questions about the quality of training given and instructors employed in the body building centers.

Though no postmortem has been conducted on the bodies of these athletes, the common perception held by the professional bodybuilders is that these young boys had died due to excessive use of steroids and sports medicines, coupled with unprofessional training dispensed at unregulated gyms.

Pakistan Body Building Federation (PBBF) President Sheikh Farooq Iqbal told News Lens Pakistan that the federation would start registering gyms and clubs to ensure that the increasing usage of drugs, steroids and food supplement was brought under control, and a mechanism was created to deal with the menace.

“ It is unfortunate that in spite of having several cases where bodybuilders from Pakistan had to return their titles after testing positive on dope test, the government did nothing to keep this menace in check.”

“Since we do not have enough funds, our activities are restricted to arranging events and selecting talents. Boys are left on their own as far as training is concerned. It is on record that the bodybuilder who fetches the most titles is the one taking steroids and food supplements the most,” said Iqbal.  For a single dope test, 30 to 35 thousand Rupees is spent while the total budget of the federation is not more than 14, 00,000/year, he added.

He said that There are only three accredited laboratories in the world, in China, India, and Korea.

Gujju’s close friend, who did not want to be named, told News Lens Pakistan that though Gujju was hard working, however, he did not refrain from taking steroids, which could have resulted in his sudden death. He further said that besides regular medical doctores, homeopathic practitioners had also been involved in selling sports medicines.

According to Shaukat, who runs Shaukat Gym in Shadman Lahore, Gujju had developed lumps on his backbone due to excessive injections of steroids.

A former bodybuilder, Ashraf Sharif, told News Lens Pakistan that some ten years back Tariq Mahmood died due to an excess dosage of steroids, and later two brothers Dr Javed Akhtar and Dr Shahid Akthar, too died at the age of 36 and 35 respectively. They were MBBS doctors and prominent bodybuilders.

“Like any other sport, bodybuilding is practiced for fitness. The absence of efficient regulatory bodies and lack of funds has turned this game into a moneymaking business. I can say with confidence that the trainers involved in coaching earn only 10 percent from training while the rest 90 percent is made from selling substandard medicines and steroids,” said Sharif.

Elaborating more on the issue, Sharif added that bodybuilders use steroids and food supplements everywhere in the world. The trainers in developed countries, he said, were trained to reverse the adverse effects of these medicines, which has not been the case in Pakistan. “In fact, we lack professional trainers and usually ex-bodybuilders were running gyms and functioning both as owners and coaches.”

“Shaukat is a trader he sells crockery in a local market of Lahore. Though he is Mr Pakistan, that does not qualify him to become trainer or coach.”

Deputy Director General Academic Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Shahid Islam laid the responsibility of high usage of steroids and food supplements by the bodybuilders on the PBBF.

“My academy is responsible for looking after the candidates nominated for international contests. As far as national bodybuilders are concerned, it is for the federation to check the quality of training being dispensed to the boys.”

“I have sought approval from the Ministry of Sports to conduct sessions on anti-doping to create awareness across the board.”

Islam told News Lens Pakistan that the PSB runs Coaches Education Program and that he wanted to make anti-doping a permanent discipline of this program to educate the coaches on handling issues related to sports medicines.

Talking from his experience, Waqar A Khan, Deputy Director General Rehabilitation and Treatment, PSB said since all the four boys had encountered sudden death, it showed that they had been taking a heavy dosage of steroids. He said it proved that the PBBF had no mechanism of check and balance as far as the use of medication was concerned.

These boys, he said, were among the top ten bodybuilders of PBBF. Their death due to lack of professional training and facilities reflects upon the mismanagement of the federation.

“This case should be thoroughly investigated. I believe that police should be involved to get to the bottom of the issue so that those responsible for this crime get punished,” said Waqar.


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