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Gov. to Be Paid $8 Million by Fitness Magazines

The State

The publications rely heavily on advertising for dietary supplements. Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have regulated their use.

July 14, 2005|Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay | Times Staff Writers

Weider Publications was started by longtime bodybuilding promoter and Schwarzenegger patron Joe Weider, who brought Schwarzenegger to the U.S. in 1968. Weider sold his magazines to AMI in 2003.

Schwarzenegger's two muscle magazines are crammed with ads for performance-enhancing dietary supplements promising chiseled bodies and surges of energy. The 257-page August issue of Muscle & Fitness contains 110 pages of ads for supplements, from creatine ethyl ester to anabolic/androgenic "absorption technology."

The governor used his regular column in the June issue of Muscle & Fitness to defend the supplement industry. He vowed to oppose any effort to restrict sales of the products in California, writing that he is "so energized to fight any attempt to limit the availability of nutritional supplements."

An article in the August issue of Muscle & Fitness said Schwarzenegger had "lent his support" to a new lobbying group that would work to promote nutritional supplements. "The governor also made it clear that he will remain a phone call away as the coalition progresses," the magazine said.

Schwarzenegger's office characterized the article as "hyperbole."

Last year, the governor vetoed a bill by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) that would have required coaches to take a course in performance-enhancing supplements, created a list of banned substances for interscholastic sports and barred supplement manufacturers from sponsoring school events. In his veto message, the governor said that most dietary supplements were safe and that Speier's bill would have been difficult to implement. He also said the bill unfairly focused on "performance-enhancing dietary supplements (PEDS) instead of focusing on ensuring that students participating in high school sports are not engaged in steroids use."

Speier said in an interview Wednesday: "I have got to believe the electorate will be incensed that he has this relationship, that he has not been upfront in disclosing it, that he has taken action on legislation that has an impact on the very industry from which he is indirectly receiving financial support."

Thompson said Schwarzenegger is committed full time to his job as governor: "We just signed a budget, and the governor has a reform agenda. I don't think anyone could dispute that he has been absolutely focused on his agenda and the state, from the media perspective, from the institutional perspective and from a civic perspective."

American Media's publications have been Schwarzenegger boosters since he formed a partnership with the company.

That wasn't always the case. The National Enquirer published an article in 2001 alleging that Schwarzenegger had had an extramarital affair. Two years later, just before Schwarzenegger signed the contract, American Media produced a 120-page glossy magazine called "Arnold, the American Dream."

In a new book about Schwarzenegger, author Laurence Leamer said the governor was aware that his contract with AMI would prompt the publisher to end any negative coverage of him. In the book, Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying: "Do you want to work with someone who you are attacking?"

For his pay, the governor's most public role is his monthly columns. A seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, he speaks with the magazine editors by phone every few weeks. They take notes, draft a column and send it to him for review, said Vincent Scalisi, editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness.

"Obviously, we know that he has a busy, full-time job," Scalisi said in an interview in recent months. "And we don't want to be a drain. But the reality is ... what a wonderful resource we have access to."

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