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The Real Reason A-Train Abused Compound V On The Boys

The Boys delves into a world full of gritty, corrupt superheroes. Each celebrity hero has their own dark side, starting with the fastest man alive, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). A-Train's addiction to performance-enhancing drugs figures prominently in the plot of season 1. Without his bad habit of abusing the fictional drug, Compound V, The Boys might never have discovered the true source of the Supes' powers. A-Train's substance abuse also results directly in the death that incites the whole series. So, why was he juicing up in the first place? Well, The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke said his story was inspired by the infamous athlete Lance Armstrong.

When considering how to portray A-Train in the series, Kripke first came to the conclusion that he was essentially a professional athlete. "[A-Train is] a performance based hero. Like, Superman gets to be Superman his whole life. A-Train, or the Flash, they're only that as long as they're the fastest man. Once they're second or third, then f*** it, open a car dealership. You're out," Kripke said in a Rotten Tomatoes TV interview.

A-Train has a continuously tenuous position in the superhero group The Seven throughout both seasons. He can only keep his spot as long as he still claims the "Fastest Man Alive" title. Kripke said this is key to his character: "So, the idea that there are other speedsters that are gunning for his position made him a really stressful professional athlete, which is why he was shooting up some extra V on the side." While the superpower-inducing Compound V has miraculous effects when given to babies, its effects on adults are less predictable. A-Train ended season 1 with a heart attack brought on by his doping.

A-Train's story is inspired by famous cycler and doper Lance Armstrong

A-Train's story isn't too far from real life (aside from the whole running through a person and having superpowers thing). Kripke said, "We landed on the Lance Armstrong story for him." Lance Armstrong is a famous cycler, who broke records after he beat testicular cancer in 1996. The pressure was on as he peddled his way into competitive cycling and won seven Tour De France races in a row. However, rumors of his use of performance-enhancing drugs dogged him throughout his career. In 2012 it officially came out that he'd been doping for all of his Tour De France wins. While Kripke specifically mentioned Armstrong, he isn't the only famous athlete that broke records while on drugs. A-Train's character draws on this common pressure to perform.

However, when it comes down to it in season 2, the drugs hurt A-Train more than they actually help him. His doping-induced health issues give racist Stormfront all the ammunition she needs to kick him out of The Seven. But with her gone due to A-Train's subterfuge, season 3 may see him rejoin The Seven. Until then, fans are left to wonder if A-Train's health issues persist, and if he'll feel the same pressure to perform as before.