‘I use steroids, this is why you shouldn’t’

Professional bodybuilder Antony Gachau Njoroge during a workout at Smart Gym in Westlands. 

Photo credit: Pool

Several containers with different ingredients carefully sit on the black kitchen table; creatine monohydrate supplement, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, bicarbonate of soda and half a glass of water.

A topless Antony Gachau Njoroge displaying his buffed broad chest, traps, defined Abs, and vascular muscular arms, adds a pinch of each content to the glass, then stirs and gulps with some sense of urgency.

The short video on TikTok cuts with the 30-year-old throwing a tiny blue pill into his mouth.

“That’s (blend) ideally my pre-workout routine. E is the ultimate pre-workout ever made. It gives you one hell of a pump and a crazy endurance,” Anthony says as we drive to VMX Gym in Nairobi.

The electrical engineer by training isn’t your typical gym rat.

You would easily mistake him for a chemist or a pharmacist or better yet, a biologist. His speech includes vocabularies such as exogenous, endocrine, hypothalamus, anabolic, among others. 

What Antony is, is a professional bodybuilder, one who openly uses steroids but is on a crusade to discourage the public from abusing the performance-enhancing drugs (PED) like he does.

As he picks his gym bag from the boot of his car ready for his Friday workout session, Antony swallows another blue pill.

“This is how it works, for the creatine to be effectively absorbed in your blood, three components are involved; Leucine which is an amino acid occurring in our body, sodium and dextrose monohydrate glucose. What the erectile dysfunction drug does is to ensure there is enough blood flow to the muscle you are targeting to ensure there is enough supply of oxygen and nutrients. The erectile dysfunction drug ensures you get the full benefits of your workout because the muscles are properly fed,” he offers.

At this point, I am curious and ask if the sustained erections associated with erectile dysfunction drug use affect him.

Antony lets out a loud laugh.

“Not at all, I never get a boner when working out. How can I be thinking of sex whilst I got 200 kilos on the squat rack? Huh! I only use erectile dysfunction drug when going to the gym.”

But why use steroids?

He says he has always been active. His first interaction with weights dates back to his college days at Kenya Polytechnic, now the Technical University of Kenya.

When he didn't have classes to attend, Antony and his college mates would visit the school gym to pass the time.

After graduation in 2019, he found himself more and more in the gym and not long enough after he fell in love with bodybuilding.

“I used to interact a lot with bodybuilders and I could see them ‘juice’ (use steroids) and as a novice, I did what I saw them doing. But that was until 2020 when I began doing my research on steroid use and then applying what I learnt to my routines,” he says.

According to him, a lot of Kenyan bodybuilders secretly abuse PED for fear of public condemnation.

“This whole conversation of PED abuse; as to whether they have used exogenous steroids or not, nothing can be further from the truth. Everybody who is in this bodybuilding industry uses,” Antony claims.

He goes on to emphasise, “Bodybuilding and steroids go hand in hand. Yes, they will tell you bodybuilding is nutrition, proper rest and training, but without the steroids even that nutrition will not be effectively utilised to give you that aesthetic look. I mean, look at my arms, do you think I could have achieved all this vascularity without steroids? Nobody does. The baseline of bodybuilding is basically steroids,” he surmises.

Professional bodybuilder Antony Gachau Njoroge doing a dumbbell shoulder press workout at Smart Gym in Westlands. 

Photo credit: Pool

Kidney failure

Antony says he doesn’t imagine himself not abusing steroids for as long as he is into bodybuilding.

 “We don’t have to use steroids but having been a natural bodybuilder for seven years, it was time to get to the next level and there began my steroid journey. Think of it as a job promotion or career progression. When you are doing something you are passionate about you will always aspire to move to the next level and for us bodybuilders, we’ve no choice but to hop on steroids,” he says.

How Antony also sees it is that bodybuilders who use steroids are considered to be in a league of their own compared to their natural counterparts. It brings some sense of honour and prestige.

“If you were to line up 10 random gym rats and ask them who is the reigning Mr Natural Olympia (bodybuilding contest), probably no one would know. But ask them, who is the reigning Mr Olympia they will tell you. In my case I would list for you the past 10 winners,” he poses.

Even then,  Antony is fully aware of the many risks he has put himself with death being the ultimate price many bodybuilders have paid.

The thought of developing hypertension due to the abuse of the synthetic man-made version of hormones naturally produced by the adrenal glands scares him, but not as much as losing his kidneys.

 “I can’t imagine myself being on dialysis, my kidneys failing is my worst fear and this is why I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go this route. I am putting my life on the line, the risks are quite high but so are the results that come with it. You can hardly come across any opportunities if you don’t take risks. We only live once and it's good you make the best out of it.”

Antony injects himself with steroids almost every day to meet the required weekly dosage. This puts him at a greater risk of kidney failure and hypertension.

“High blood pressure scares every bodybuilder because once you develop HBP that means your kidneys will suffer the most. Unlike the liver which regenerates itself even when destroyed as it works to clear your body, for the kidneys if they are destroyed, that’s it. That means you will be on dialysis especially when old age comes and you can no longer use steroids,” he adds.

Antony, however, adds that he discovered a way of mitigating the risk of running down his kidneys.

“Every side effect of steroid use has a drug cure to it. To ensure I don’t develop hypertension as a result of the steroids I ensure my blood is never thick by taking aspirin after injecting myself with the ‘juice’. I also use high blood pressure medication and now that’s where I go back to erectile dysfunction drug use,” he explains.

Nonetheless, he reiterates his goal is to compete at the very top international levels and no one gets to those stages without the use of steroids.

“Our level of competition you can’t compete without steroids, everybody else is on it, that’s just how the game is played.”

Antony Gachau Njoroge says he is fully aware of the many risks he has put himself with death being the ultimate price many bodybuilders have paid.

Photo credit: Pool

The financial burden

And the steroids don't come cheap.  

“These bodies are super expensive bro. To transform my body to be as it is, it’s quite a financial burden. My three months' expenses cost me an average of Sh200,000 just to be able to compete.”

The most common steroids used by bodybuilders, Antony says are testosterone injection.

 With an upcoming event around the corner in November, Antony plans to use it for muscle gain.

“It gives you proper muscle definition, vascularity, muscle hardness and all the good things. I know I will go mad but I will drop it immediately after the competition,” he says.

Breast surgery

Sometime last year, he developed a bad infection on his right chest muscle that required surgery to correct it. The doctors had to cut open the chest muscle to make an incision and draw out the half-glass abscess (a buildup of pus) that had built up.

The right pectoral muscle developed an abnormal swelling accompanied by excruciating chest pains.

Antony had been injecting himself with the anabolic steroids on the chest muscles to grow them bigger.

“I have acknowledged that I use steroids but I use them with caution and concern. But my chest infection had nothing to do with the steroid but rather hygiene. Anyone injecting compounds to their muscles sometimes due to hygiene issues you tend to transfer dirt into the muscle,” he notes.

He describes the ordeal as a ‘workplace hazard’.

“That’s how I see it, it was an unfortunate event. I had been using a surgical spirit that over time went bad and I hadn’t noticed as I continued using it to sterilise the injected area. That is what got me the infection. A buildup of abscess of about 150 ml was drawn from my chest with the operation,” he says.

Antony’s popular areas of PED injection are the legs, glutes, chest and deltoid muscles.


As the chat comes to an end he feels compelled to give a disclaimer. He says his sole purpose in opening up is to reveal what goes behind the scenes in the Kenyan bodybuilding world and thus shouldn’t be held responsible for any calamities.

“I am not a doctor, I don’t practice in this area of anabolic steroids. I do not sell steroids. I do not distribute. Sharing my experience is purely for information purposes. And my plea is do not use steroids, they are risky to one’s health with death being the ultimate price you pay,” he concludes.

Doctor's advise

Dr Francis Mbugua of Nairobi Spine & Orthopedic Centre warned that any bodybuilder abusing the blue pill is at risk of developing health complications, including cardiac arrest.

“I go to the gym myself, and I see people talk and using all these things- the sexual performance-enhancing drugs like the blue pill. There is a risk of them becoming dependent (on the drug), plus they risk having cardiac problems because all those things, in the end, overload the heart. That’s why it’s not recommended,” he cautions.

Dr Mbugua, who is also attached to Kijabe Hospital, also cautions against abuse of any form of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids.

“The problem with steroids is that they are a hormone, and your body has natural steroids so increasing that hormone, at some point you will start having side effects.”

He notes the side effects of anabolic (tissue-building) steroid abuse are a ‘gazillion’.

“There are many of them, even in medical use, we limit the use of steroids a lot because they have a gazillion side effects, from causing the heart to eventually start shutting down, to increasing your risk of stroke, to causing liver and kidney failure, to making your bones to get soft thus becoming more weaker,” he explains.

For men, the doctor says the male genitals will be affected.

“This is a side effect that most people don’t talk about, but you will end up reducing the size of your testicles and all the organs around there. Or if that doesn’t happen, there will be a reduction in the amount of sperm you produce, which is a big deal for men, however, they still do it (abuse steroids) for the aesthetic body physique,” he says.  

Editor's note: The story has been revised to add comments from a doctor on the abuse of performance-enhancing medications and to remove some drugs references. 

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