Did Anabolic Steroids Kill Kimbo Slice?

Kimbo Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson), the 42-year old combat street fighter turned viral YouTube sensation turned mixed martial arts celebrity, died of congestive heart failure on June 6, 2016. And sadly, some websites are already seeking to blame anabolic steroids as the cause of his death.

At the onset, we want to apologize for such a sensationalistic title as “did anabolic steroids kill Kimbo Slice”. At the same time, it is a question that many people are asking and we hope that we can offer an answer that is free of the anti-steroid bias that permeates media coverage of steroid- and doping-related topics and news stories.

Anabolic steroids most certainly did not cause the death of Ferguson. People are always looking to assign blame when presented with a tragic, unexpected and premature death. Steroids are already so demonized in society that it is easy to point fingers at the muscle-building drugs as the culprits in such deaths. However, it is never that easy.

Steroids have never been proven to be the single cause of death in any fatality. A person can’t suffer a fatal overdose from steroids. They don’t suffer heart attacks from taking too high a dose of steroids. Quite simply, there is not a direct causal relationship between the use of steroids and death.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that steroids are safe. It doesn’t mean that they are free from side effects. It certainly doesn’t mean that steroids didn’t have an adverse effect on Ferguson’s cardiovascular health. At the most, it can only be said that steroids may have “contributed” to Ferguson’s demise rather than representing a direct causal factor.

No one really knows Ferguson’s pattern of steroid use. It is assumed that most professional athletes have, at some point in their careers, used anabolic steroids and/or performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Steroid use is thought to be more pervasive in some sports than others.

There is evidence to suggest that Kimbo Slice used anabolic steroids. Specifically, Ferguson tested positive for nandrolone (Deca Durabolin) and an elevated T:E ratio during his most recent bout against Dada 5000 (real name Dhafir Harris) at Bellator 149 on February 19, 2016. Ferguson’s T:E ratio was 6.4:1. Any T:E ratio that exceeds the limit of 4:1 is a putative indicator of exogenous testosterone use.

Ferguson’s apparent use of steroids isn’t enough to explain his congestive heart failure. There are many risk factors that are associated with heart failure. These include, but are not limited to, congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart arrhythmias, faulty heart valves, cardiomyopathy, chronic diseases such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism, obesity, alcohol use and illicit drug use.

Heart failure is rarely caused by a single risk factor and usually involves a combination of several risk factors. This is why you should remain highly suspicious of anyone who claims that anabolic steroids were the culprit in Ferguson’s death.

Any further clarification on the cause of Ferguson’s death may not be forthcoming given that the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office has declined to conduct an autopsy or toxicology examination.

“We’re not going to review his body or that case because it doesn’t meet our criteria under Florida Stature 406.11. He died in a hospital and presumably his physician knows his cause his death. Unless his family wants an autopsy, our office won’t be performing one…

“We were informed of his death and after review of the circumstances, we declined jurisdiction. It is not a medical examiner case… No medical legal investigation, including toxicology is necessary.”

R.I.P. Kimbo Slice.

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