Bodybuilding star Rich Piana died nearly three weeks after he was placed in a medically induced coma, TMZ reported Friday. He was 46 years old.
Piana passed out while his girlfriend, fitness model Chanel Jansen, was giving him a haircut in the bathroom of his Florida home. She tried to catch him but was unable to brace his fall. Jansen called first responders, but they were not able to wake him after administering two doses of Narcan, which is typically used to treat opiate overdoses.
Jansen said Piana had a history of opiate use, but said he was clean as far as she knew. On the other hand, first responders discovered a white powder, straw and credit card. They also found 20 bottles of steroids.
An official cause of death was not currently revealed. It’s unclear if the steroids or powder played a role in Piana’s death.
Piana not only made a name for himself in the bodybuilding world, he was also a star on social. His Instagram account racked up 1.2 million followers and thousands of people regularly watched his YouTube videos.
Jansen had been the only person from Piana’s camp to issue a statement about his health, but didn’t immediately speak out after he died Friday. The last thing she posted to Instagram was a picture of her holding Piana’s giant hand. She thanked fans who offered their well-wishes and slammed those who spoke ill of her boyfriend.
At the time of her post, she had written Piana was alive and “OK.” Previously, rumors swirled the bodybuilder died when he was still trying to recover in the hospital.
“We can’t thank you all enough for your continued support during this time. To those who have been so respectful and come to his defense when others have been disgusting excuses for human beings — THANK YOU!” she wrote last week.
“The only update I’m permitted to give at this time is that he is alive, he is OK, and the excellent medical professionals here as well as myself and his close loved ones are doing all we can to get him back to a full recovery,” Jansen wrote at the time. “Please continue to remain patient and respectful. This is a very stressful time for Rich and everyone around him so please understand if we’re quiet. It’s with good reason.”
Some netizens on Instagram blamed Piana’s longterm steroid use for his death. The athlete was open about juicing, saying it was a necessary evil for people who wanted to compete in bodybuilding.
“If you have the choice to stay natural or do steroids, stay natural. There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself,” he said in an April 2016 YouTube video. “If you want to become a professional bodybuilder, guess what – you’re probably going to have to f—in’ do ’em. You’re not going to have a choice.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.