Markus Rühl got disqualified in 1999, not because of steroid use, but because he tested positive for diuretics. He was 27. The freakishly big strong German ten years before was a teenager with a bad knee injury. Ruhl did not obviously limped to become a bodybuilder pro.
Ruhl began training at the age of 18 following a doctor’s recommendation after sustaining a knee injury while playing soccer. He was 120 lbs in training six days a week. Five years and 243 lbs later, he told himself, “ I am so big I have to go on stage.”
He won the Heavyweight and Overall titles at Bachgau Cup in Babenhausen. In two more years, he is on his way to winning the German Nationals at the Hessen Championships. This granted him a pro card. He was 10th on his pro debut, not too bad considering the names on the top five: Kevin Levrone, Nasser El-Sonbatty, Lee Priest, Paul Dillett, and Ronnie Coleman. Markus’ place was right behind veteran pro Vince Taylor and ahead of Mike Matarazzo.
In 1998, Markus Ruhl came to America. He placed 9th in the 1998 Night of Champions, but bodybuilding fans never forgot. They appreciated big freaky Ruhl and loved him even more for years to come. In the 1999 NOC, a seeming controversial decision placed Ruhl 4th place. His New York fans showed clear dissatisfaction chanting “Bullshit!” and hurling trash on stage. That year, he qualified for Mr. Olympia, but got disqualified when his urine tested positive for diuretics. He won’t be put off, and in the British Grand Prix in Manchester, he finished 7th.
In February 2000, as he prepared for the Toronto Pro and third NOC, his shoulder joint’s ligament tore — the same injury he had in 1994. His doctor advised four to six weeks off. Ruhl decided to only do five days off and carefully worked around the injury and lightened the weights when necessary. His instincts were right. Markus defeated Dexter Jackson in Canada to win his first IFBB show. He placed 2nd after Jay Cutler at the NOC.
This same year, while preparing for Mr. Olympa, his belly button ruptured and he underwent hernia surgery. In 2001, his belly button ruptured again and looked far worse. He did not have time for surgery and the judges placed him on the 14th.
Markus realized he was overtraining, cut back on cardio, and decreased weight. He stopped weighing on scales and started looking at the mirror. It paid off and Ruhl came out victorious at the 2002 NOC and came 8th at Mr. Olympia. He continued to become one of the favorites, although not making it like a champ. Injuries follow him, too. 2005 also came as a verdict for him when IFBB decided to mark down distended abdomens, and aesthetics will be considered more than sheer bulk.
He did not feel as motivated as he was and trained differently to try to satisfy the judges. But his health took a dive and he tore another muscle. He returned to Germany after placing 15th in Mr. Olympia. A year later, he went back to training. This time, his body had enough time to heal. It was time to embrace who he was and show how it is to be a total freak. The German Beast and Nightmare was back.
He may look like a beast, but he would merely guffaw when asked about steroids. If mood swings is one of effect that steroids do, Ruhl is the happiest, the most enjoyable, and the least emotional.
“I like to get big. I love getting bigger. I desire what I do. My mind and muscles have a strong connection,” Ruhl said matter-of-factly.