chapter  7
30 Pages

Bodybuilding and the freedom to choose

WithChristophe Brissonneau, Montez de Oca Jeffrey

Chapter 7 contrasts with the previous chapter by focusing on pharmacology in a market-centred sport. Bodybuilders have greater control over their training, the uses of their bodies, and which competitions they will attend than do any of the other sportspeople we studied. In short, independence from the state gives bodybuilders far more agency. However, bodybuilders use pharmacology at higher rates than other sportspeople. Which is to say they consistently choose to use banned drugs despite their relative ‘freedom of choice’. We argue that internalising the structuring logic of elite sport embodied by the Olympic motto, in fact, gives bodybuilders the impression that they do not have any choice but to use pharmacology. As opposed to wrestling and weightlifting where the compulsion to use banned pharmacology was objective, in bodybuilding it is subjective. Although the structural reality that bodybuilders experience is more subjective than what Olympic sportspeople experience, it nevertheless exerts a powerful social force upon them.