The bodybuilding world was shocked when it was revealed in mid-August 2017 that Rich Piana had to be brought to an emergency room not far from where he lived in Clearwater, Florida. The story was that he was getting a haircut from his girlfriend, but suddenly keeled over and lost consciousness. Piana was rushed to the ER and placed in a purposeful coma, leading to speculation that he had suffered brain damage. He remained in the medically-induced coma for 18 days, while rumors spread over various Internet forums and groups, as well as Facebook, as to what caused this sudden serious medical problem. Some said that besides his well-known use of a plethora of anabolic drugs, Piana had dabbled in recreational drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine. Indeed, initial reports were that a white powder of unknown origin was found on a table not far from where Piana abruptly passed out. This led to speculation that the mysterious white powder was cocaine, and that Piana had overdosed after snorting, thus explaining his sudden loss of consciousness. But his army of online fans also noted that Piana often spoke about how he snorted pre-workout powders in order to get them absorbed faster than the usual oral route. Whatever that white powder was, it was never revealed. Another outside possibility is that the white powder may have been powdered caffeine. This is being sold over the Internet as a "pre-workout: supplement. But the safe dose is 1/16 of a teaspoon. A full teaspoon contains the same amount of caffeine found in 50 to 75 cups of coffee. If you ingested two teaspoons of powdered caffeine, you would die and the cause of death would be heart rhythm disturbances. Another report was that when he was taken to the hospital, the police found 20 bottles of steroids in his home. This, however, was also never confirmed. The plain fact is that Rich Piana died at age 46.
But rumors still circulate about what really caused his death. Piana himself often told friends that he didn't expect to live past 50. In the past few years, he had established a vast online presence and fan base, mainly due to his frequently posted videos on YouTube. Piana initially made video appearances on Ric Drasin's YouTube telecast. Viewers of those videos were intrigued by Piana's huge arms and shoulders, but more so by his candor. To use an old cliche, Rich let it all hang out, not holding back on discussing anything, including his own extensive use of various anabolic drugs. His combination of gargantuan muscle mass and truthful candor soon attracted a vast fan base. Piana went on to produce and star in his own videos, often with the "5% label," a reference both to his supplement company as well as his notion that he and his followers represented an elite 5% of humanity who displayed freaky muscularity. Prior to his . . .