Was Ronnie Coleman On Steroids or Natural? (Revealed)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 6, 2023
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Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman admitted on the June 2020 Joe Rogan Experience podcast that he started taking steroids at 30.

As a long-time fitness instructor, I know that many bodybuilders use steroids to improve their performance. Many denied it, but a few, like Coleman, have come forward.

When the news broke that Coleman was using steroids, I can't say that I was surprised. Having closely followed his career, the signs were obvious to me and fitness trainers. Still, I dove deep into research to understand his full story.

This article will explain why the professional bodybuilding legend used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), how they aided his career, and the health issues he's currently dealing with due to his steroid usage.

Did Ronnie Coleman Admit to Using Steroids?

Yes, Ronnie Coleman, admitted to using steroids in an interview with Joe Rogan in 2020. The acclaimed greatest bodybuilder of all time said that he began using prescription steroids when he was 30 years old.


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A post shared by Ronnie Coleman (@ronniecoleman8)

Coleman started bodybuilding at the age of 24 and stayed all-natural for the first six years of his career.

One of Coleman's fellow competitors, Flex Wheeler, introduced him to PEDs when he was 30.

He claimed that he could gain mass, achieve his ideal body, rank up, and eventually win major titles by using performance enhancers because they made him shredded and conditioned as he had never been before.

How Steroids Work

I recall a fellow trainer in my early days of training explaining the allure of steroids to me. These anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), as they're scientifically called, mimic testosterone effects, boosting muscle growth and recovery. It was tempting, but I've always believed in natural methods.

From my experience as a long-time instructor, this physiological enhancement allows them to train harder and recover faster.

What Made Ronnie Coleman Decide To Take Steroids?

Ronnie Coleman showing off his muscular body

Ronnie decided to take steroids when he realized he needed to gain the competitive advantage most bodybuilders seek.

Coleman's fellow competitors were overwhelmingly using performance enhancers, which was acceptable because androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) were a controlled substance at the time [1].

Furthermore, when he started using PEDs, he moved up the ranks and won annual bodybuilding competitions.

In my gym, the debate over supplements is endless. Some of my peers swear by creatine and BCAAs, while there are those who, like Coleman, feel they need something extra to reach a Mr. Olympia-level physique. I've always advised caution and research.

Learn More: Ronnie Coleman's Chest and Tricep Workout Routine Revealed

Was Steroids A Factor In Coleman's Career Growth?

Close up picture of Ronnie Coleman

Yes, Coleman admitted that the use of steroids helped him advance in his career. However, he also credited good genetics, eating right, exercising regularly, and taking natural supplements, a sentiment I've always echoed to my clients.

Coleman told Rogan that genetics play a significant role in bodybuilding. And that a bodybuilder must have the natural ability to achieve an excellent physique [2].

He went on to say that because of his good genes, he can stop taking PEDs cold turkey over the offseason and not notice any difference in his body.

He attributes his massive lean muscles to steroid usage, which he claims he took in precisely the right amounts as prescribed by doctors.

The Ethical Dilemma

While steroid use is a personal choice, it brings forth ethical questions. Some people believe that they provide an unfair advantage and set unrealistic standards in sports.

The issue is not exclusive to bodybuilding but goes across various sports including cycling and baseball. Many cyclists and baseball players have faced scrutiny over the use of these substances.

What Kind Of Steroids Did Ronnie Coleman Use?

Ronnie used doctor-prescribed performance enhancers. He didn't detail his cycle, but he admits to taking the same amount as other athletes.

"I wasn't taking tons of stuff. I probably wasn't taking any more than what those baseball players were taking."

- Ronnie Coleman 

He also confirmed that he never bought PEDs on the black market. Instead, he would obtain testosterone and growth hormone prescriptions from doctors and present them to Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials during competition.

The legal landscape surrounding steroid use has massively evolved as in the past, many of these substances were not considered illegal. Hence, athletes would use them without risking bans or penalties.



Was Ronnie Coleman Ever Banned For Using Steroids?

Ronnie was never banned for using performance enhancers because he did not test positive for illegal use.

The bodybuilder uses doctor-prescribed drugs, and because AAS was a controlled substance at the time, he was never caught using them illegally.

Does Coleman Have Health Issues Today Due To Steroid Use?

At 56, Ronnie has no health problems due to his steroid use.

On the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, he confirmed to Rogan that he was able to reach the pinnacle of his career at Mr. Olympia without having chronic health problems.

Coleman says, "I don't have any health problems besides the injuries. My liver, kidneys, and heart are all good."

Furthermore, he was under medical supervision to monitor his hormonal levels.


  1. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9421240/
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