Local opinions vary on use of steroids; 3 associated with Dynabody Gym in Oxford were arrested on drug charges Thursday
by Michael A. Bell
Staff Writer
Jun 19, 2009 | 4813 views |  3 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pictured left to right: C. Freeman, A. Freeman, Cole. Photo: Special to The Star
Pictured left to right: C. Freeman, A. Freeman, Cole. Photo: Special to The Star
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OXFORD — Steroids are nothing to these men with bulging pecs and veins popping from their arms.

It's like taking a drag from a cigarette, drinking a bottle of beer — something a lot of people do for confidence, to feel better about the image in the mirror.

Even if they do use steroids, "it's nobody else's business," said Barry Bowman, a member of Dynabody Gym in Oxford.

But authorities say otherwise.

The Calhoun/Cleburne County Drug Task Force on Wednesday arrested three people affiliated with Dynabody on charges related to steroid distribution.

Owner Cooper Freeman of Oxford was charged with three counts of distribution of a controlled substance and multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance. His wife, Amanda, and gym manager Billy Cole of Saks were both charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Task force Commander Lt. Chris Roberson said the arrests were the result of a five-to-six-month investigation. Agents bought steroids from Freeman three times, he said.

He said the arrests were "low key" and without incident and that Freeman willingly handed over a box of syringes and vials of testosterone when police arrived at his house.

(A story in Thursday's Star incorrectly reported the materials were scattered throughout the house.)

Freeman on Thursday declined to comment about the allegations, except to say that "absolutely none" of the charges against him were related to high school athletes. Authorities confirmed this.

Oxford head football coach John Grass said he and his coaches educate players about avoiding steroid use, but he doesn't think his players feel persuaded to consider taking them to gain an edge.

"It was more of a concern 10 years ago than what it is now because the over the counter stuff has come such a long way over the last 10 years," Grass said.

Grass said he tries to make their own facilities accessible so his players don't have to get gym memberships.

Inside the purple-tinted building on Hamric Drive Thursday, it was business as usual. Children followed their moms and dads around while they walked on treadmills or sculpted their muscles. Regulars with clothes drenched in sweat filed out of the gym.

No one seemed to care about the arrests. Their opinion: Everyone makes mistakes.

"I've never been approached about (buying steroids)," said Douglas Cartmill, a 22-year-old University of Alabama student. "They're good guys. No place for me to judge anyone."

Josh Nail, 22, described the Dynabody staff as nice and respectful.

"I still think it's a good place to work out," the recent UA graduate said.

Others in the building, including Bowman, a gym regular, said the media and police make steroids a bigger problem than they actually are. They said the majority of users want to just look better.

"How many people get hurt over steroids? Zero," Bowman said, forming an "O" with is hand. "How many people get hurt taking steroids (like) people drinking and driving … or overdosing on pills?"

Major League Baseball players continue to be linked to steroid abuse. High-profile players like Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez have each tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

And the National Institute on Drug Abuse links steroid abuse to liver cancer, heart attacks and strokes, among a host of other problems.

Locally, Roberson said steroid abuse is not isolated to the Oxford gym, and many users, he said, pose the excuse that it doesn't hurt anybody else.

But he disagrees.

"There're family members that are out there that love them, and basically don't want to live without them," he said, adding that convictions could result in prison. "And to me, that's hurting somebody."

Staff Writer Nick Birdsong contributed to this report.
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