George Eiferman (1925-2002) was a popular bodybuilder from Philadelphia whose name shook the bodybuilding scene in the late 1940s. He joined the US Navy in 1942 at 17 years of age. During his service, he began exercising and added 40lbs/18kg of lean muscle tissue to his frame.
In 1948, Eiferman won two bodybuilding contests – Mr. America and Mr. California. His next win was in 1962 when he became Mr. Universe.
Bodybuilders like Eiferman lived in an era when the steroid chemistry was making its first steps. For that reason, historians and dreamers often teleport themselves back to those times to search for true naturals. But are they going to find any? Was George Eiferman natty or not? Let’s find out.
Establishing a Timeline
Some believe that synthetic testosterone didn’t hit the scene until the late 50s or even 60s, but this wasn’t the case.
Below is a chronology of events illustrating the development of testosterone during the 1930s:
1931 – Adolf Butenandt from Germany isolates steroidal androgens from urine.
1935 – Ernst Laqueur and his group of scientists obtain testosterone in crystalline form from bull testes.
1935 – Adolf Butenandt and Gunicr Hanisch synthesize testosterone. Leopold Ruzicka and Albert Wettstein do the same.
1937 – Immediately after its synthesis, testosterone became clinically available in the form of pellets (Deansley and Parkes 1937; Parkes 1965). It was used for the treatment of hypogonadism (diminished functional activity of the testes).
1938 – According to the research material “The History of Synthetic Testosterone” by Hoberman JM, Yesalis CE, the earliest reference to anabolic steroids in a U.S. strength magazine goes back to 1938 when testosterone propionate was mentioned in a letter to the editor of Strength and Health.
1950 – The first reliably documented use of testosterone in high-performance sports takes place. Axel Mathiesens, the physician of the Danish rowing team, prescribes the testicular extract Androstin to Danish rowers before the European Championships.
– Medical professionals initiated clinical use of testosterone shortly after its discovery.
– Physicians were administering testosterone-based supplementation to athletes in the early 1950s.
The timeline legitimizes the existence of PEDs during the reign of George Eiferman. He and other bodybuilders may have implemented similar “extracts” in their preparation.
However, there are two questions that reduce the validity of this deduction:
- Were steroids available in America at the time?
According to the official story, Josh Bosley Ziegler a.k.a. Dr. Ziegler found out that the Soviet athletes were doping in the 1950s when a Russian coach shared a secret after getting drunk. To combat this problem, Ziegler went back home and began experimenting with testosterone on himself and three lifters – John Grimek, Jim Park and Yaz Kuzahara.
Hence why many claim that steroids weren’t a thing in the USA until the late 50s. While there may be some truth to this story, it sounds like a scene extracted straight from a Cold War movie propaganda.
Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising if both sides had access to similar drugs.
- Could average bodybuilders obtain those magical testosterone pellets?
We can’t know for sure, but one thing is certain – the medical professionals at the time were pretty aggressive with the introduction of testosterone on the scene. As stated – clinical use began right away.
George Eiferman’s Stats [Height, Weight, Arms Size…etc.]
|FFMI @ 10% BF||27|
George Eiferman’s measurements reveal that he had a very thick frame (7.3-inch wrist and 9.6-inch ankle). A large skeleton is a tremendous advantage in bodybuilding as bigger bones equal larger muscles by default.
Little Progression between 1948 and 1962
The photos of Eiferman from 1948 and 1962 do not show a drastic transformation, although he appears more polished during the Mr. Universe contest.
Why? Two conclusions come to mind:
- George Eiferman was already enhanced.
- Eiferman didn’t take anabolic steroids and preserved his natural physique into the 1960s.
The likelihood of that theory is slim to none for the following reason – the competition in the 60s was already fierce. Steroids were available and widely used.
If Eiferman was natural at the time, how come he stood his ground next to the likes of Larry Scott – the man who became the first Mr. Olympia in 1965?
Ahead of His Time
During the 70s and 80s, bodybuilders got significantly bigger thanks to persistent abuse of anabolic steroids. Only unenlightened dreamers think that the popular muscle heroes from that epoque were natural.
In 1983, Samir Bannout was the last Mr. Olympia under 200lbs/90kg. He won the competition weighing 196lbs/88.9kg. His height was almost the same as Eiferman’s – 5’7”/170.18cm.
However, Bannout was known for his amazing conditioning and was certainly leaner than Eiferman, although no one can tell exactly by how much. Bannout’s FFMI at 7% body fat is 28.549 – above Eiferman’s but not by a lot.
This comparison reveals that Eiferman had a physique ahead of his time.
Preserving Gains into Old Age
George Eiferman continued lifting until his elder years. There are clips of him in the gym in which he appears quite large. His pectorals remained his most prominent feature.
George Eiferman was a mesomorph gifted with a thick skeleton and long muscle bellies. His muscle journey began in an era when primitive synthetic testosterone was the only form of anabolic steroids. It’s unclear whether the competitors had access to the drug during the late 40s, but it’s certainly not impossible.
The bodybuilding elite from the late 50s and beyond had a very questionable natural status. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that men obsessed with muscular growth would experiment with a medicament that directly affects their ultimate goal.
Why would Eiferman be an exception? After all, he was rivaling the size of bodybuilders who would later be linked to steroid use.
Can Natties Build that Physique Naturally?
Natural lifters with inferior or even average genetics for muscle construction cannot replicate the shape and muscle mass brought on stage by George Eiferman regardless of their training and nutrition blueprints. For better or worse, the natural muscular potential of most men is lower.
Thomas M. Hunt, J.D., Ph.D., (2014). A Global History of Doping in Sport: Drugs, Policy, and Politics (Sport in the Global Society – Historical Perspectives). Texas: Routledge; 1 edition.
“The Danish Oarsmen Who Took Part at the European Championships in Milan Were They Drugged?” Bulletin du Comité International Olympique, 28 (1951): 25-6.
Professor Eberhard N, Professor Hermann M. B., (2012). Testosterone: Action, Deficiency, Substitution. Germany: Cambridge University Press.