`Gladiator' sacked for taking steroids

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The Independent Online
"Shadow", one of the stars of the television series Gladiators, was sacked yesterday after a drugs test showed he had been taking anabolic steroids. The 32-year-old bodybuilder, whose real name is Jefferson King, admitted taking the steroids, but denied allegations that he had taken cocaine. He said he took the steroids over five weeks during December and January when the programme, in which muscle-bound athletes compete against members of the public, was off air.

"I was cheating myself," he said yesterday. "I did it to get my body back up to par." He also blamed the pressure of his marriage break-up.

The programme has 9 million viewers - many of them children - and yesterday Mr King apologised to his fans. "The thing I hold closest to my heart is the admiration of millions of children who watch the show . . . I'm very sorry to have let them down, andalso my colleagues on Gladiators. I did a very foolish thing at Christmas. I took a compound containing anabolic steroids.

"There is no justification for taking them - I knew if I was found out I would be fired."

Random drugs testing was introduced last May and Shadow, who has been with the programme three years, is the first Gladiator to have tested positive.