How Mr. Olympia Bodybuilders like Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden And George “Da Bull” Peterson III Are Dying In An Industry Under Fire

News of Rhoden’s death at 46 comes as the bodybuilding community is still reeling from the passing of George Peterson, John Meadows, and Andy Haman earlier in 2021. SHAWN Rhoden is the latest bodybuilding athlete to die this year.

Rhoden, 46, suffered a fatal heart attack according to Generation Iron.

This follows Peterson’s death last month. His cause of death remains unknown.

In 2018, Rhoden became the oldest person to win the Mr. Olympia title at age 43.

Rhoden had posted to his Instagram account just hours before reports of his death surfaced.

“Be with someone who will take care of you. Not materialistically, but takes care of ur soul, ur well being, ur heart & everything that’s you,” the posted meme reads.

Condolences continue to pour in from fans around the world.

The Mr. Olympia organization could not immediately be reached for comment.


Now, attention is turning to the bodybuilding business, the life of its stars, and the toll the quest to look “perfect” places on their bodies.

With their bulging muscles and toned physique, many could be forgiven for thinking the athletes’ bodies are in good health.

Read our Shawn Rhoden live blog for the very latest news and updates…

But as late bodybuilder Rich Piana admitted in 2016 the use of steroids – which he says is widespread and almost inevitable for professionals – “hurts your body.”

Piana, who died in 2017 two weeks after being placed in an induced coma, said in 2016: “If you have the choice to stay natural or do steroids, stay natural”.

There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself.”

But he admitted: “If you want to become a professional bodybuilder, guess what? You’re probably going to have to f***ing do them. You’re not going to have a choice.”


An autopsy obtained by Men’s Health said the coroner noted “significant” heart disease in Piana and a history of drug use.

Police later revealed they found bottles of testosterone and white powder in the house and his girlfriend Chanel admitted to responders that he had been juicing for more than 20 years.

Following Meadows’ death in August, fans speculated his passing may have been related to a heart attack the bodybuilder suffered early last year following a career that spanned 30 years.

Just months earlier bodybuilding icon Haman died at the age of 54.

The star, known as “Mr. Incredible”, who died in March, is said to have suffered complications from elbow joint surgery, his wife Michelle said.

She added: “The Doctors believe it was a massive blood clot to his  heart, lungs or brain.”


In July, female bodybuilder Odalis Santos Mena, 23, suffered cardiac arrest and died following a botched operation to stop her excess underarm sweat.

Coroners pointed to a lethal combination of the steroid Mena was taking and the anesthetic, The New York Post reports.

And it is not just well-established stars who succumb to the pressure.

In 2017 a young British bodybuilder died after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs he bought on the dark web.

Robbie Ryder, 20, was found collapsed at his home in Hull just hours after opening a package containing items he had bought illegally online, an inquest heard.

Mr. England runner-up Ben Harnett, 37, died in 2019 after taking steroids before a bodybuilding event.

He had been married less than a year and had a five-month-old baby girl when he was discovered dead.


Coroner Eric Armstrong said: “He was proud of his body but became ‘overproud’ and in attempting to make the most of his body, began to use steroids”.

“I sincerely hope that if nothing else, Ben’s death reverberates around the bodybuilding world and people realize the risks they are taking”.

“This is the loss of a life that shouldn’t have happened.”

Dad Ben Snr added: “Some people like having a drink. For Ben, he enjoyed the gym. It was his life.”

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