THE death of bodybuilder Stacey Cummings at the age of 31 was the latest tragedy to strike a sport in which its stars strive to look perfect.
The mother-of-two’s death comes shortly after the deaths of fellow stars Cedric McMillan, Tom Prince and Ashley Gearhart.
And it also comes just months after the industry was reeled by the deaths of Shawn Rhoden, who suffered a heart attack, and John Meadows, who died of a blood clot.
Cummings, who was born in Florida, started in the industry in 2013 and earned her IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) Pro Card in 2016, Generation Iron revealed.
Her cause of death remains unknown.
McMillan’s death was confirmed days earlier by Generation Iron.
According to the outlet, he suffered a heart attack on a treadmill.
The bodybuilder had put off his return to competitive bodybuilding due to health issues but seemed optimistic about returning in recent months.
Virginia-born athlete Prince, 52, died at his bedside with his wife on February 5.
He earned his pro card after the 1997 NPC National Championships before making his 1999 governing body debut for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness.
But the star was forced to retire in 2002 due to kidney problems caused by a genetic blood disorder.
Prince’s death comes just days after the bodybuilding community was rocked by the death of Ashley Gearhart.
The professional bodybuilder died on January 29, her sister announced online.
She died in her sleep, but her cause of death is currently unknown.
The athlete earned her pro card in 2018 and has been involved in competitions in the industry for 10 years.
In a moving Facebook tribute, her sister Aubree Rhodes said the family was “without answers” but said she was comfortable knowing Ashley wasn’t in pain.
The bodybuilding industry was already affected by the deaths of Rhoden and Meadows last year.
As a result, attention turned to the lives of the industry’s stars and the impact of striving to look perfect.
With their bulging muscles and toned physiques, many could be forgiven for thinking athletes’ bodies are in good health.
But as the late bodybuilder Rich Piana admitted in 2016, steroid use — which he says is widespread and almost unavoidable for pros — “does your body hurt.”
Piana, who died in 2017 two weeks after being placed in an induced coma, said the previous year: “If you have a choice to stay natural or take steroids, stay natural.
TRAGEDY HITS THE INDUSTRY
“There’s no reason to take steroids, you’re only harming your body, you’re harming yourself.”
But he admitted, “If you want to be a professional bodybuilder, you know what? You’ll probably have to fucking do them. You will have no choice.”
Police found bottles of testosterone and white powder in the house and his girlfriend Chanel admitted he has been making juice for more than 20 years.
Rhoden, who became the oldest person to win the prestigious Mr. Olympia title in 2018 at the age of 43, suffered a fatal heart attack in November.
Hours before his death, he wrote about someone who took care of his heart.
Rhoden said, “Be with someone who cares about you. Not materialistic, but caring about your soul, your well-being, your heart and all that you are,” the quote reads.
‘WATCH YOUR HEART’
Rhoden also added his own comment to the quote, writing, “Real talk.”
Following Meadows’ death in August, fans speculated that his death could be related to a heart attack the bodybuilder suffered early last year after a 30-year career.
The athlete died of a pulmonary embolism.
In July, 23-year-old bodybuilder Odalis Santos Mena suffered cardiac arrest and died after a botched operation to stop her excessive underarm sweating.
Coroners pointed to a lethal combination of the steroid Mena was taking and the anesthetic, reports the New York Post.
And it’s not just established stars who are succumbing to the pressure.
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 girl when he was found dead.
Coroner Eric Armstrong said: “He was proud of his physique but became ‘over-pride’ and started using steroids to get the most out of his physique.
“I sincerely hope that last but not least, Ben’s death resonates in the bodybuilding world and people realize the risks they are taking.
“It’s the loss of a life that shouldn’t have happened.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/sport/4630002/stacey-cummings-bodybuilding-deaths-heart-attacks/ Inside Bodybuilding tragedies range from heart attacks and blood clots to addiction as cause of Stacey Cummings’ death remains unclear