Who was Rich Piana and how did he die? Popular bodybuilder who admitted steroid use | The Sun

Who was Rich Piana and how did he die? Popular bodybuilder who admitted steroid use | The Sun

September 7, 2023

BODYBUILDER Rich Piana died in 2017 after spending two weeks in a medically-induced coma.

Before his untimely death, the fitness fanatic had a massive fan base across the globe thanks to his workout regimes and social media accounts.

Who was Rich Piana?

Rich Piana, 46, was a pro bodybuilder from Florida who kept over 1.2million followers on Instagram hooked with his muscly selfies.

He took the internet by storm in the final years of his life, with his ripped social media posts, workout plans and supplement business.

In 2016 he revealed he weighed a whopping 22st and that number was actually “down” on previous gains.

Fitness was in his blood – his mum is a bodybuilder too, and introduced him to the sport when they lived in their native California.

Piana was introduced to the world of weightlifting when he was 11, after going to gym to watch his mum train for a competition.

Keen to follow in her footsteps, he entered his first competition at the age of 15, where he failed to place, according to Deadspin.

After a number of failed attempts, he turned to steroids to help his training, and saw greater success in the field.

He placed 7th and 11th in national bodybuilding championships and was even named Mr California in an interstate competition.

Did Rich Piana take steroids?

For more than 30 years, Piana injected his body with anabolic steroids, and was thrust into the spotlight in 2016 when he openly admitted he used the drug to gain muscle mass.

His fitness regime consisted of a massive steroid cycle, nine meals a day, a series of workouts not fit for the average human being and, according to one profile, “protein shakes big enough to drown a toddler in."

Piana insisted he took great care with steroids and said he understood the importance of “on/off cycles”.

He also claimed nobody in the competitive bodybuilding industry could compete without using performance enhancing drugs.

He said: “If you have the choice to stay natural or do steroids, stay natural. There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself.”

He estimated that, at his peak, he was spending £1,926 ($2,500) on growth hormones per month, with steroids on top of this.

How did Rich Piana die?

But in August 2017, Rich overdosed at his Florida home and was left fighting for his life.

Police reportedly found 20 bottles of steroids and crushed up white powder after he collapsed while his girlfriend Chanel was cutting his hair.

She tried to catch him when he collapsed in the bathroom, but couldn’t due to his enormous frame.

He was found unresponsive when paramedics arrived and he was rushed to hospital to be placed in a medically induced coma.

On August 25, 2017 it was revealed by his estranged wife Sara Piana that Rich had passed away.

She wrote: "I just want to say thank you Rich for teaching me so much about life, whether it was the easy or the hard way.

"We had our ups and downs but we sure had an awesome time in each other's presence along with us fighting through some dark times together.

"You truly touched many people's heart and helped so many!"

Fans from around the world paid tribute to the bodybuilding star, with many describing him as "the nicest man in the industry."

Gym owner Rob Tramonte said: "Even though he looked pretty intimidating, anyone that knew the real him knew he was one of the nicest guys in the industry."

James Mooney said: "Gone too soon brother. What a sad day, can't even believe it's true. Truly heartbreaking."

His girlfriend Chanel spoke out after his death to slam critics who suggested steroids and class A drugs were behind his death.

She denied he took illegal drugs and said he hadn't been "overly juicing" before he died.

Was Rich Piana married and did he have children?

Rich was married to fellow bodybuilder Sara Heimisdóttir , but the two were estranged leading up to his death in 2017.

The couple got hitched in 2015 after meeting each other through Facebook and bonding over their love of fitness.

Rich later accused Sara of marrying him to get a green card to stay in America – an accusation which Sara has denied.

The two separated in 2016, and did not share children.


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