The Land Where Muscle Gets You Arrested

by Christian Duque

Who can forget when The X-Man, Toney Freeman, was taken into custody while overseas, doing the business of bodybuilding. I don’t recall if he was competing, guestposing, or maybe he was just working a booth. I should probably look it up, but that’s not the point of this article. I’m writing this from the heart and I’m not about to interrupt the creative process to go research some trivial detail. I won’t do it afterwards either, and sneak it in, like I knew all along.

Toney was in Sweden. Tony was jacked, like he’s always jacked, and he got arrested for it. He wasn’t using gear, talking about gear, much less holding or moving gear. He was just a muscular guy in a country whose government is more hysterical about anabolic steroids than pretty much any country in the world. Our laws on the matter, here in America, are nonsensical, but we still have Due Process, we have rights, and the government can’t trample over our rights in order to make their case. But in Sweden, there doesn’t even need to be a case. If cops think you’re too big, too strong, too muscular, they’ll detain you and piss test you. There’s no probable cause you’re taking anabolics. There isn’t even reasonable suspicion. If they have just a mere thought you were juicing, that’d be enough to take you in.

Imagine being cuffed for that and then forced to submit to a urine test. It’s not like you have a say in the matter. Pissing clean is the only way you get your freedom back. And God forbid you have naturally high test levels. It would be similar to some of these ridiculous natty organizations that have preset ranges that all men and women must fall between. If someone surpasses these ranges, even if they’ve never taken a steroid, prohormones, or even natural test booster, then they’re denied the ability to compete – and – publicly shamed. How can you appeal a decision by a federation like that? Similarly, who’s going to protest submitting to urinalysis in a country where the government’s agents are criminalizing how people look?

When I first heard this story, some thirteen years ago, I was dumbfounded. Sweden is a European nation, it’s a strong U.S. ally, and highly developed. Its government is progressive, they believe in rehabilitating criminals, and they have clean air and water. There are so many positives for this Nordic nation, but then you find out that they can detain muscular people just for being muscular, and you’re left asking yourself how could that be possible? How could a society be so modern and cosmopolitan, yet, be so primitive and simpleminded when it comes to the look people choose to have. They could easily turn on obese people next. Maybe they’ll turn on skinny people. Some people believe super thin people have a propensity to either suffer from – and/or – promote eating disorders. OF COURSE, that’s patently absurd, but if we’re talking about a country who allows arresting people for being muscular, then on what basis could they argue they’d never go after the skinny, obese, or others? What’s also alarming is that they don’t treat foreigners differently. They don’t care if you’re a U.S. citizen or a Swedish one. Look jacked? Get arrested.

In many real ways, I tip my hat to the many bodybuilders after Toney Freeman, who have continued to go to Sweden. In fact, they just had a major bodybuilding contest there. For a country that embeds undercover police operatives in gyms, mainly to point out those who are too strong or too jacked, for arrest, it blows my mind that competitors would do a contest in a country like that. It also blows my mind that top U.S. Pro’s would risk arrest and possibly prosecution to attend. I understand they want to grow the sport and do right by it, their sponsors, and the fans, but I would be far too uneasy traveling to Sweden if I was a competitor – especially a pro. Could you imagine someone like Nick Walker or Blessing Awodibu in Sweden? Even walking from the hotel to the venue or going out for a bite to eat could compromise their freedom.

Surely there must be opposition to these laws. Surely, it can’t be a universal theme in the country. I think supplement companies and promoters should find opposition leaders and show them financial support. They should also look for less insane supporters of the existing laws and try to dialogue with them. The federations could try to effectuate some change, as well.

Another group of people that are terrorized by the Swedish government, include marijuana smokers. In fact, it seems the Swedish government looks to pot, the same way it looks at crack, heroine, and fentanyl. That, too, makes me question all the positives I’m privy to when it comes to the Nordic nation. How many people hurt or kill others to get pot? What kind of crime is involved with people looking to get testosterone? Do people steal copper wires, mug others in alleys, or maim others to get it? How is society impacted by people who want to eat cleaner, train, and have muscles? Not only can’t I believe Sweden has laws like these on the books, it’s mind boggling to me that elected officials actually penned these laws, presented them, and somehow got majorities to approve them.

Backwardness can be anywhere. Even the most advanced, developed and innovative nations, can have instances where they act like total imbeciles. There’s no legal or moral justification for these laws. I applaud all the judges, competitors, and companies that were involved with the super successful bodybuilding show in Sweden, but I think for a lot of people, their backward laws relative to bodybuilders, will have to be defeated, before you see the best of the best, even consider going there. I’m not even muscular and I’d think twice before heading over there. I’m a journalist in the fitness industry, maybe they’d charge me as an accessory to muscle. A person promoting those who lead healthy lifestyles, train, pay their taxes and don’t break any laws. It would probably be headline news. Lol.

And no, I’m not making this up. This is real. This is happening, right now, in Europe in 2022. Go figure!

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