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Raymond Tucker is back

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After two year suspension and says he is just as good as when he left.

Bodybuilder Raymond Tucker is back! And he guarantees fans and competitors alike that what he left on stage in 2000, is still all there.

At 41-years old, Tucker is coming back from a two year-suspension, after he tested positive for testosterone at the Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding Championships in Bermuda in 2000.

Because of the positive testing, both gold medals he won at the competition, in the welterweight and mixed pairs competition with Della Thomas were stripped.

His suspension was officially lifted on Tuesday, November 5.

Two years later, he is still uncertain of how and why he tested positive, but said it was due to a vitamin or mineral he took which caused a chemical reaction in his body, and caused his testosterone level to rise above normal standards.

This was confirmed by Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation president Danny Sumner yesterday, who said Tucker's positive testing at the 2000 CAC Championships in Bermuda had just been unfortunate.

But Tucker's suspension ends in time for him to prepare and exact his revenge, as The Bahamas hosts CAC's, September 25 to 28, 2003. And he intends to re-claim the medals that were stripped from him at home.

His other major goal, is to represent The Bahamas at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where bodybuilding will be making its debut, and give the country its first bodybuilding medal at that level. Tucker said that he doesn't care whether he wins gold, silver or bronze at the Olympic Games, but seems intent on nabbing a medal so that he can continue his trend of being a pacesetter.

Tucker was the first Bahamian bodybuilder to win a medal at the Pan American Games, when he won a bronze in 1995.

Sumner said Tucker's goals are realistic in his comeback.

"He's in top shape. And even though he has not been on stage in two years, he has not diminished. He continued with his vigorous training, and I'm behind him 100 percent," said Sumner.

For Tucker who will be 42-years old when the country hosts CAC, he said his return is for his country.

The veteran bodybuilder does not consider himself to be too old. "At other competitions I've seen guys competing at age 65, even up to 70," so I won't be too old. To me bodybuilding is a way of health to me. It's health first and the sport itself afterwards."

Over the past two years, Tucker has not let himself get out of shape. He looks smaller than he did two years ago, but he said it's all an illusion.

"I've not dropped in size. Honestly speaking, I'm 20-pounds heavier than I usually am when I compete, and it has everyone confused, but I'm 184-pounds right now."

In preparation for his comeback he had been training for the past year to get back into competitive shape, and said if there was a competition on Saturday he would be ready for it.

"The only thing that would happen to me if I had to compete on Saturday is I would have to compete in a different weight class. I would have to compete as a light heavyweight instead of welterweight."

But Tucker is going to drop the 20 pounds because he competes better at welterweight than at middle or light heavyweight.

Dedicating two more years to the sport, Tucker said he will streamline what he intakes in due time and has received and studied the list of banned substances.

Nevertheless he still maintains his innocence.

"I'm still not sure what I had taken then. And I was told I used some masking agent to block it, I still don't know what they were talking about. There is nothing that I don't know that I have ever taken that could cause my testosterone level to rise to the level it had risen to, but I will cut back on what I was taking and stick to amino acids, vitamins and minerals," he said.

"I have never used any banned substance according to what I know about, and there's nobody out there who could tell you they have given me a banned substance to help me get to another level in bodybuilding."

Tucker is returning to active competition at time he said bodybuilding is at the highest its ever been. He intends to fit right in and excel once again while giving corporate Bahamas the medals they are crying out for.

"I don't worry about the two year suspension anymore. It's behind me. I guess everybody is waiting to see what I can produce and whether I look the same as I did before," he said, assuring everybody that he does. "I'm back and on top of things."

Looking back, Tucker said the two years he was forced to take off from competition was good for him personally, because his life took an upward turn.

He became part owner of a gym, Better Bodies Fitness and the money he could have spent on getting a lawyer to fight the positive testing case, he used to purchase a home.

"I took it to another level, and all positive. I got a lot of personal stuff done, and I was on a high."

Raymond Tucker fans will get the opportunity to see him on Saturday, November 23, at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts at the McQueen Gladiator Classic. There Tucker will put on an exhibition.

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