“Birmingham body builders are putting their lives in danger by using a ‘fat-burning’ pill that has killed more than 60 people worldwide.
Known as DNP, or 2,4, Dinitrophenol is used as a pesticide and can cause rapid weight loss.
But the killer drug, which is illegal to sell as a weight loss supplement, can speed up metabolism so fast it “cooks” victims from the inside out.
In a documentary by BBC’s Inside Out programme, former world middleweight boxing champion Richie Woodall meets one Birmingham teen who is taking the poisonous substance to ‘get into shape’.
The youngster began taking the substance after discovering his Australian bodybuilding idol was taking the product. But after just one dose he experienced terrifying symptoms.
‘Luke’ said: “After the first three days, my temperature really went up really high and I started sweating constantly so I had to have a fan around me every time wherever I was. Your breathing is like rapid breathing and you can’t sleep because you’re constantly sweating.”
But the second time that Luke took the deadly drug things went from bad to worse.
“I had to go to the A&E,” he said. “My heart rate increased even more and the sweating got even worse. I was dehydrated and my lips were bleeding and when I mean dehydrated I thought I was going to die.”
No stranger to the gym environment, Midland-born Richie Woodall was alarmed to see how far some were going for quick results.
Richie said: “What was most disturbing was that he was aware that there were serious side- effects and was still prepared to take them. The symptoms are scary – at one point he told me that his lips were bleeding and his eyes were bulging, like he was turning into the incredible hulk.
“But people look up to body builders who are taking these drugs, and endorsing them. That’s the most dangerous thing.
“Luke was a strong lad. I tried to educate him that in my business the only way is hard work and dedication. I was world champion and I can hold my head up high. I won through hard graft alone.”
Medical student Sarah Houston, 23, died in September 2012 after taking the pills she had bought online in a bid to lose weight.
Her parents are campaigning for tougher legislation to ban the drug, and met with Richie and ‘Luke’ to warn of the consequences.
Richie added: “I’m a 100 per cent convinced now that ‘Luke’ will stop. When he met Sarah Houston’s parents that really hit the nail on the head. Her mum is a doctor and she told him that doctors wouldn’t know what to do even if you went to hospital. It’s shocking.”
“That is why I am glad to be part of this. There needs to be positive role models and education, and the drug is too easy to get hold of on the internet.”
Inside Out airs on BBC One at 7.30pm today (Feb 3).”