Rich Piana
Rumors swirled that bodybuilding star Rich Piana, pictured May 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England, died. Getty Images

Star bodybuilder Rich Piana has not recovered since he was placed in a medically induced coma Aug. 7, which apparently led some fans to assume the fitness aficionado had died. Netizens flocked to Piana’s Instagram page to mourn the giant, but others were quick to point out Piana was still alive.

Hundreds of people wrote “rest in peace,” which is what made some question Piana’s vitality. “Is he STILL in a coma?! He must have seriously damaged his brain for them to keep him under for this long. Hopefully he doesn’t have permanent brain damage. This serves as a good warning to all those kids who try to be like Rich and copy his drug use. It isn’t worth it,” IG user poweroptions1 wrote.

Some people blamed Piana’s steroid use. The bodybuilder was open about doping, admitting he juiced for more than 20 years. “You f---ed ur body up sorry but u can’t abuse drugs at ur age without any side effects,” IG user relationship_quotepage2017 said.

According to Piana, using steroids is a necessary evil the 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.”

Piana’s girlfriend, fitness model Chanel Jansen, was the only one from Piana’s camp to speak out. She issued a statement after the first round of rumors swirled. She’s been silent for more than a week, with her last update saying Piana was alive and “OK,” but that she wasn’t permitted to give further details about his condition.

“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. “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.”

Her first message was written Aug. 11, days after Piana was hospitalized. “I will not be posting any updates after this until further notice. I just want to be clear [Piana] is STILL ALIVE,” she wrote. “All myself and his family are asking for is POSITIVE thoughts, prayers, and love. PLEASE I’m BEGGING you all to have some respect and realize how EXTREMELY difficult this is for us. Thank you to all of you staying positive and sending well wishes, prayers, and love. We appreciate it more than you will ever know.”

Opiate use might be to blame for Piana’s coma. First responders discovered white powder, a straw and credit card in his Florida home. While he had a history of opiate use, Jansen said she thought he was clean. Medics administered two doses of Narcan, which is usually used to revive people who overdosed.

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