Rick Collins: Getting it Done in the Gym and Courtroom

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by Matt Weik

Matt: Thank you, Rick, for taking the time out of your day for this interview. For those who don’t know about all of your services and what you do, can you please give us the rundown?

Rick: Before I went to law school I was a competitive bodybuilder and a personal trainer. [Rick’s personal website is www.RickCollins.com]. The iron is in my blood, and as an attorney I’m honored that like-minded people have brought their legal problems to me for the past two decades. If your readers need a lawyer, they can call me at 516-294-0300. My firm handles all sorts of legal issues, especially for bodybuilders and people in the health, fitness and nutrition communities. I’ve handled matters all over the country. Whether it’s a simple contract or a complex criminal investigation, we can help. We have lawyers in a variety of practice areas. Our portal website at www.cgmbesq.com shows the various things we do. Of course, I still focus my personal caseload on dietary supplement issues and cases involving steroids and performance enhancing drugs. If you have questions or need help in that area, check out www.steroidlaw.com.

Matt: I consider you a great ambassador for the sport and industry. What gave you the drive and passion to do what you do every day both in the court room as well as the gym?

Rick: Great question! I wrote about this quite recently in a couple of different magazines. Simply put, I credit bodybuilding for making me a successful lawyer and businessman. The lessons I learned from hardcore training have carried over into everything I’ve done in life. I truly believe that whatever your line of work, a bodybuilder has an advantage over anyone who never struggled through an intense drop set or a forced rep that seemed like forever. Bodybuilding is a great teacher. You learn discipline. You learn sacrifice. You learn to deal with setbacks, and work around obstacles. I’ve always invested my bodybuilding mindset into building my law practice and fighting for each and every client. I love what I do, and I do what I love. I’m a very lucky guy.

Matt: Where do you feel the sport of bodybuilding is at? Do you feel the sport has shifted to a win at all costs, even if that means risking your health?

Rick: Actually, I think that in the “big picture” things are moving toward a more aesthetic ideal. The popularity of both men’s and women’s physique, and now the creation of the new “classic” category, suggests a downsized trend. Look, okay, bodybuilding has always been about some level of freakiness. But having grown up in the sport and competed in the 80’s, I prefer the more classic proportions and symmetry – a V-taper, a wasp waist, etc. I think we are heading back in that direction.

Matt: What are your thoughts on Arnold being so vocal about the sport these days? First he pointed the finger for how the judges are scoring the mass monsters of today. Then he was extremely opinionated this year at the Arnold Classic after Kai took 1st place in which Arnold said he didn’t have the best physique on stage.

Rick: Arnold, like everyone else, is entitled to his opinion. I’ll give you mine. I don’t point any fingers at anyone. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport and everyone sees things differently. But I do think the physiques of today are so extreme and inaccessible that most people – not just the mainstream public but even many gym rats – can’t relate to them. Like I said before, proportions matter and I think being able to turn to the side and have your waist disappear is part of what bodybuilding should be about. I’m not talking about anyone in particular, but if you’ve got a 40 inch waist spilling over your posing trunks, regardless of the rest of you, I think you need to downsize. There should be beauty in extreme muscularity, not just size for the sake of size.

Matt: What are your thoughts on TRT versus bodybuilding steroid use? What similarities and differences do you see there and should both be legal or illegal in your opinion?

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Rick: The obvious similarity is that in most cases we’re talking about the exact same drug, or very similar ones. The most obvious difference is that testosterone replacement therapy is for a medical purpose while taking steroids just to look more jacked is not. Testosterone and similar steroids are controlled substances, so for use to be legal in the U.S. it has to be under a valid prescription for a medical purpose. If you have documented low testosterone levels, you can go to your physician and get a prescription for TRT. It’s legal and it absolutely should stay legal. But the dosing – typically 100 to 200 mg per week – will be less than what many bodybuilders use. So, the anabolic effects will generally be less … but so will the side effects. The old saying is that the difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose. In other words, a little of something may be health-promoting but a ton of it may be dangerous. Although TRT has been trashed in the media with claims that it is bad for your heart, the literature actually suggests that testosterone may generally be good for your heart. On the other hand, taking massive dosages of steroids for prolonged periods without medical supervision or monitoring is taking a big risk with your health. I’ve written a lot about whether criminalizing non-medical steroid use has been a good policy. Like the broader “War on Drugs,” it has failed in many ways. It certainly hasn’t stopped athletes from cheating in sports, and it’s resulted in a lot of otherwise law-abiding and productive people getting arrested. I see it all the time, and I do everything I can to help people in this situation. Whatever your thinking is, I don’t see Congress legalizing steroids for bodybuilding any time soon. Until then, I’ll be here fighting for the little – and big – guys who get jammed up.

Matt: There are guys on YouTube who are extremely vocal about their steroid use/cycles and have even posted videos of them injecting. What are your thoughts on individuals doing this and how does this differ from someone recording a video of them injecting heroin (since both substances are illegal) and posting it online? No legal repercussions?

Rick: The First Amendment provides certain protections. I haven’t yet seen anybody being busted just for talking about their steroid use, but being so public about it certainly makes law enforcement aware of you. Being on their radar isn’t ever a good thing. It wouldn’t take all that much effort for a cop or agent with time on his or her hands to conduct some surveillance on you. These days, it’s mostly distributors and underground labs that are the targets. Still, if particularly anti-steroid law enforcement agents felt that you were encouraging others, maybe even including lots of impressionable young people, to also use, they could focus their attention on you and try to develop a case. What I have lately seen a lot of is the situation of undercover federal agents with fake online profiles engaging guys in private message discussions over a period of time. The discussions are often harmless at first, establishing a level of mutual trust. Then it gradually veers into steroid talk and finally into a steroid transaction. Then, eventually, to an arrest. I get copies of these message exchanges as part of the discovery packages provided by the prosecution in my cases, and they are quite damaging.

Matt: The supplement industry is under the microscope these days. Why do you feel that is and what do you think the future holds for the supplement industry?

Rick: The supplement industry went pretty much under the radar for a decade after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 was passed. It seemed like the FDA had thrown up its hands on regulating the market, almost like they were actually figuring that abuses would escalate and DSHEA would be repealed and replaced with a regulatory model more similar to the prescription drug market. I would hope that was never the thinking. Anyway, more recently FDA has been more active. I’m seeing aggressive government enforcement actions these days, especially in the area of sports nutrition. I’m also seeing more class actions and more Prop 65 actions. The bottom line is that the industry is changing. Whether that will be good or bad for consumers, we don’t know yet. Like it or not, more regulation is the direction we are heading in, and we just have to hope good comes out of it. I’ve personally been using dietary supplements for nearly 40 years. I believe in them. And like everyone else, I want what’s on the label to be what’s in the bottle. If the government goes after bad actors, that’s good for the market. Products should also be free of contaminants. I’ve had cases recently involving athletes and others testing positive for banned substances, including Ostarine, that were not on the product label nor should they have been in the product. One college athlete lost his scholarship because of it. A police officer nearly lost his job and pension over it [Rick got the officer acquitted at trial]. It’s really sad. Companies with loose quality control procedures and quality assurance need to clean up their acts.

Matt: Everyone seems to be throwing out predictions for this year’s Mr. Olympia. How do you see the top 5 shaking out?

Rick: If Phil is on 100%, he will win. He’s got those cartoonish muscle bellies, and his relatively short clavicles give his pecs a rounded look that’s off the chain. Without Kai or Dennis Wolf in the running, Dexter and Shawn Rhoden will vie for second place. I’ve helped Shawn with some of his endorsement contracts and I consider him a friend, so I would like to see him place at the top of the food chain. Roelly and Cedric will be right behind Dexter and Shawn. Of course, everyone wants to see what Big Ramy will bring to the stage this year – a completely shredded and grainy Big Ramy might catapult into the top five. Lastly, like everyone else, I’ve heard speculation that Kai may be a last minute entrant. If that happens, things could get very interesting.

Matt: What are your thoughts on Kevin Levrone’s comeback to the Olympia stage?

Rick: Inspirational! Any time you have a guy who’s been away from the stage for that long and comes back hungry, it inspires all us older guys! He’s under a very short time constraint so the extent of his progress may be limited, but just to get back up there at all is pretty awesome regardless of placing. It would be interesting to see if he can make further progress over the fall and come back for the Arnold.

Matt: Are there any last details you would like to share that we didn’t touch on or anyone you would like to thank before we close out this interview?

Rick: I want to thank everyone in the bodybuilding, fitness and health communities who have trusted me all these years to be on their side. I try to give 100% to all my clients, and to treat people the way I would want to be treated if I was in the same situation. Sometimes I get notices of a new client review posted on my page [check out Rick’s 5-star reviews at https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/11501-ny-richard-collins-91122.html]. I’m so proud to see messages like that. I’m a very lucky person to love what I do and be able to help so many people, sometimes in times of great stress and worry for them. I have active public pages on both Twitter and Facebook, and I encourage everyone to follow me to keep abreast of developments of interest to the bodybuilding and nutrition communities. Lastly, Matt, I want to thank you. You’ve always been a great friend to me. I miss the days when we would hand out trophies together at the Arnold Amateur competitions. I still sponsor the show, as well as many other contests, as a way of giving back to the sport that has been so good to me. I’ll be there in 2017 handing trophies to the winners – hopefully with you again. Either way, I hope to see you at the Olympia and the Arnold!

Matt: Thank you again Rick!