Parents warning as fitness fanatic, 20, is killed by steroids after suffering third heart attack

Oli Cooney

Oli Cooney

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

A bodybuilding obsessive who had already suffered two heart attacks and three strokes due to his intake of anabolic steroids died aged only 20 after ignoring warnings to stop working out.

Fitness fanatic Oli Cooney had been told by doctors he was putting his life at risk if he did not limit his bodybuilding and weight-lifting, but he refused to listen to them – and to his family, an inquest in Bradford was told.

In fact, he told his family he was “invincible and limitless”, said his grandmother Janet Brook.

She said as an 18-year-old, her 5ft 2ins grandson had openly and honestly told his family he was taking anabolic steroids because he wanted to change his body image and he had been working out since he was 16.

The inquest was yesterday told Mr Cooney, of Aireview Crescent, Baildon, who was also taking physique enhancing supplements including milk thistle, had been diagnosed with chronic heart damage after attending Bradford Royal Infimary with chest pains.

He had stopped taking the anabolic steroids but the irreversible and long-term damage to his heart had already been done.

Despite having two heart attacks and three strokes, which left him with weakness down one side and without speech for a time, he responded well to phsysiotherapy but he returned to working out at the gym three or four times a week, despite the warnings by doctors.

He told a nurse he would rather have another heart attack than another stroke because of the effect a stroke would have on his body. The hearing was told by health professionals how Mr Cooney had seemed to be in some denial about his serious heart condition and its consequences.

He had also insisted on continuing to take bulking-up supplements, although he would always get them checked out first with medics.

On September 22 last year Mr Cooney, who worked at a convenience store in Baildon, had been on his way home in a taxi after a night out when he stopped off at a friend’s house in Bradford. He was running back to the taxi a few minutes later when he collapsed.

He was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to BRI.

Recording a verdict that Mr Cooney’s death was from substance abuse of anabolic steroids, Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell said: “He had this weakness that he was driven to alter his body image to become more confident in society.”

He also told Mr Cooney’s family they were not to blame themselves.

He said: “For most people what had already happened to him would have been a wake-up call but he was not willing to listen to or learn from the heart professionals. If he would not listen to them, he would not listen to you – it does not reflect any shortfall on you.”

After the inquest, Mr Cooney’s parents, Simon and Sarah Cooney, said they wanted their son’s death to drive home the message that steroids can kill.

Mrs Cooney said: “Oli was driven by a passion for bodybuilding and unfortunately it was that passion that took his life. We would not want anyone to go through the hell we have been through. We will never move on from this.”

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