The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Dying to compete: When risking lives is part of the show

By Jenn Abelson

07 Dec 2022 · 32 min read

Editor's Note

Bodybuilding is a competition of extremes. The Washington Post reports on how these extreme conditions are costing people their lives. Dive into this fascinating article.

Alena Kosinova was hunched over a fan waiting for her spray tan to dry when she realized she couldn't move. It was hours before the 2021 Europa Pro contest and the Czech bodybuilder was cramping again - just like she had at a contest in Portugal weeks earlier.

Kosinova was known by friends and competitors for embracing the extremes of bodybuilding - the training, the dieting, the drugs. But on that steamy August morning, her voice quivered as she whispered to another Czech athlete, Ivana Dvorakova, "I won't be able to do it. I feel really ill."

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