Anti-steroid nonprofit raises concern over “World’s Strongest Man” contest ahead of its Myrtle Beach return

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — As Myrtle Beach prepares to welcome elite strongmen back to the city for a second year of competition, the founder of an anti-steroid nonprofit is concerned.

“I consider the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ a threat to the health and welfare of the youth of America,” Al Thompson, founder of Protect Our Youth From Steroids, said.

The contest is slated to run from May 1 through May 5 on the city’s boardwalk.

Established in 1977, the “World’s Strongest Man” is viewed by more than 200 million people globally.

Athletes push their bodies to the limit in tests of endurance, strength and agility, from a half-ton deadlift, to a 25-meter car walk.

Thompson’s Pennsylvania-based organization works to educate youths on the effects of steroids.

In November 2013, strongman Mike Jenkins died at the age of 31 from an enlarged heart suspected to be caused by long-term steroid abuse.

“His heart was two and a half times the size of a normal human’s. It was certified on his death certificate that he died of steroid poisoning,” Thompson said.

The medical community tells me that it has a dramatic impact on your heart. When Mike Jenkins passed away in 2014 the coroner who autopsied him, his heart was two and a half times the size of a normal humans, it was certified on his death certificate that he died of steroid poisoning.”

Competition officials say the use of performance enhancing drugs is prohibited, and athletes must undergo a medical screening. Anyone found with illegal substances in their system is disqualified.

Thompson said the “World’s Strongest Man” should be a teachable moment for young people.

“We had too much emphasis on the cheating aspect of it, and not the health aspect,” he said. “I’m not going to change the mind of a 30-year-old who’s abusing himself, but I can get to the 13-year-old or the 14-year-old, or a high school kid.”

.Thompson hopes his organization can raise awareness of what he considers to be a critical issue for today’s youth.

“They may have a father that, she’s 16 years old, her father is in his 40’s and he’s watching the World’s Strongest Man and he’s now abusing himself because he doesn’t want to let go, or they have a brother, or a boyfriend and I’ve just loaded up their ammunition that it’s over now. We had a guy at school today and that was the reaction I got,” he said.

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Hannah Huffstickler is a multimedia journalist at News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2024 after graduating from Coastal Carolina University in December of 2023. Keep up with Hannah on Facebook and Instagram. You can also read more of her work here.

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