Former Gladiators star talks about dangers of steroid abuse

Jefferson King, who was ‘Shadow’ in the original Gladiators TV series, took part in a talk at Chesterfield Library last week to help highlight the dangers of using steroids. He was joined by Sandra Currey, who blamed the use of steroids for the death of her son Neil last September. A former Mr Olympia competitor, Neil struggled with his mental health after prolonged use of steroids.

Nick Johnson spoke to Jefferson after the talk and asked him the following questions…

How have you found your time in Chesterfield?

It’s been a great experience. Going over to the Chesterfield football ground and seeing the guys from the academy and talking with them. Talking to them to raise awareness, in case they’ve been approached by someone who suggests maybe taking steroids might enhance their physique or enhance their performance, just just making them know that there are dangers in doing that.

How big is the problem do you feel in this country? 

Steroid abuse is very big but it’s a very underlying condition. People don’t talk about steroid abuse or taking steroids. The only people that really talk about it are people that are weight training or looking to enhance their physique. Your average Joe doesn’t even realise that steroids are something that people get addicted to or that you could die from.

What was your own experience? How did you feel when you were using the steroids?

Being fairly ignorant to what I was actually doing. Yes, I did feel a bit stronger. I don’t know if that was an effect that it had on my mind, that it made me feel like I was stronger, but yet I was putting out more because I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’ve got this stuff inside of me, so I better train that extra bit harder’. Maybe I was doing that all by myself. This is why I believe that there’s no need to take the steroid. If you’re going to produce muscle from good exercise and good diet and good sleeping and being disciplined and consistent, then there’s no need for you to take steroids. You don’t get that much more than you would if you did it naturally. 

What would be your message to anybody who has been tempted to use steroids?

To do your research and find out exactly what the steroid you’re going to take is actually used for because a lot of people take steroids and they don’t know what they’re actually used for. When I tell people that they gave people with HIV – or those who couldn’t produce muscle on their frame – steroids to increase muscle size and increase muscle strength. So why would a fit, normal person want to do that to themselves?