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Muscle Profiling - Can looking big get you arrested?

Posted by John Romano on Dec 17, 2010 4:06:00 PM

handcuffPro bodybuilder “X-man” Toney Freeman arrived in Sundsvall, Sweden for a scheduled appearance for the Fitness Festival (Fitnessfestivalen) in nearby Göteborg. While signing autographs, Freeman was removed from the premises by police and taken into custody. He was then escorted from the Venue, into a waiting car, and taken to the police station where he was given a urine test to determine if he was using anabolic steroids.  His offence?  He “looked” jacked.

Göteborg Police Chief Henrik Blusi stated that “we learned from "Operation Liquid” that professional bodybuilders use steroids, growth hormones and other illegal substances," (according to a press release from police, “Operation Liquid” is described as a national effort against serious doping offenses, carried out under the government's mission in the fight against serious organized crime). Though it’s no secret drug use is a requisite for most bodybuilders, Freeman did not have any drugs with him at the time of the arrest. He was arrested merely on the basis that he’s 300 pounds with a 30 inch waist.  In other words, the basis for Freeman's arrest was "muscle profiling."

According to an unnamed Swedish national familiar with the event, “If they [police] suspect you are using steroids they will detain you. You can refuse to give a urine sample but they have the rights to hold you down and draw a blood sample. If the drug/steroid test is positive you'll be fined, then they have the rights to search through your home to find further evidence. Depending on how much they find you'll get a heftier fine or jail time.”  IFBB pro and Swedish national Martin Kjellstrom was jailed for over a year with no trial under the same law.

What we have here is not a rogue cop with an axe to grind.  This is a national effort. “Muscle profiling” is the basis for being detained in Sweden.  If you look big you stand the chance of being arrested.  The Freeman incident sent a powerful message home.  Current Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler canceled his trip to Sweden believing, as the rest of us now do, that bodybuilders are not welcome in Sweden.

Now, Sweden is considered a first world country, and not a society wrought with terror threats such as found in let’s say Israel, where profiling for terrorists is the norm. As a first world society, could Sweden be setting an example that could be followed here in the US? Since the US government would no doubt position such a human rights violation as a cogent step in the war on drugs the “political correctness” advocates would likely accept such profiling over profiling for terrorists.  I mean, violating the rights of an illegal drug user would be no problem for our government; they would easily do it over the rights of a Muslim extremist. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. We can’t even agree that erecting a mosque at ground zero in New York is in bad taste lest we – god forbid – offend anyone.

Assuming such is really not too much of a stretch. I could easily see something like the Swedish model crossing the pond.  Now, assuming for a minute it does, can you imagine the problems it would cause?  While such a procedure would surely once and for all determine who’s “natural” and who’s not, the idea that anyone – guy or girl – who looks “big” can get hauled into the station and forced to pee in a cup seems insane!  But, if it can happens in Sweden, why not here?

What about the users of legitimate and efficacious supplements such as those we make here at VPX? Does training hard, eating right, and taking well made effective supplements a recipe for police harassment?  Knowing how tenacious some of our anti-drug cops are, rousting bodybuilders repeatedly for what they think might constitutes probable cause could become quite a nuisance for some of us if the Swedish model hits out shores…  Something to think about.

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