Saturday, August 7, 2010

Should IFBB have Natural Pro Divison?

"This idea has been broached many times and it it always fails. In fact, in the early 2000s MD tried going "all natural" and nearly went out of business. The simple matter is that there is no such thing as natural bodybuilding. Even if they don't use illegal drugs (but they all lie and do them anyway), they do use legal pro hormones, test boosters, herbal growth factors, "natural" gh boosters... all that crap, including eating 20 chicken breasts a day is not natural. The IFBB would never agree to a pro natural division because that would indicate that they believe their "other division" is loaded with cheaters and criminals and would draw the attention of law enforcement even more than it does now. The bottom line is that, given the option, people are going to pay to see the freaks. And, no one believes anyone is natural.

John Romano
Boss 2 of
Ex-Editor-in-Chief, MD Magazine

"I'm afraid I don't think it will happen because it will basically be a blatant admission that all of their other athletes are using illegal drugs and I do not see that happening. It would not be a wise business or political move for them."

Layne Norton
Professional Natural Bodybuilder

[Just Received]

"The biggest challenge natural bodybuilding faces is what an individual person/fan will believe is truly achievable naturally. Everyone makes their judgements based on their own perspective and personal experiences.

You have people who have been training for just a couple of years with their opinion. You have people who readily admit they didn't fully commit to training naturally before they started using drugs with their opinion. You have extremely dedicated, hardworking people with pretty darn average genetics (at best) with their opinion. And, you have extremely dedicated people with extremely good genetics with their opinion.

Human beings make decisions based on emotion--not logic. They will "bend" logic to support their emotional decisions--whether they realize it or not.

Unless that natural bodybuilding champion standing on stage with the trophy appeals to the LOWEST common denominator's perspective and personal experiences, you will inevitably have controversy. If it's not because it's believed he is currently using, it's because he's used them in the past (whether that's true or not). If it's not because he used drugs in the past, it's because over-the-counter supplements are just as effective as drugs anyway.

Even if that person who appeals to the lowest common denominator's perspective and personal experiences as to what is truly natural, half of the other people will think that winner sucks. So, what's the point?

Look, you can line up 10 eighth-graders who have never trained a day in their lives and their will be controversy. There will be a naturally (pun intended) be a huge discrepancy in the development between the first place and last place competitor.

No subjective competition can have credibility to the masses with such built-in, inevitable controversy. "Unlimited" competition is much more palatable to the masses.

I agree with the basic premise John Ramono makes and I fully agree with Layne Norton."

Skip La Cour

Christian Duque now speaking...

For a long time now I've toyed with the idea of blogging about what I believe is a real need for an IFBB Pro - Natural Division. The introduction and immediate success of the 202 Class and the jaw-dropping progession of Team Universe class champions have been major points of interest of mine. The reality is that the IFBB's feeder (or minor league) organization in the United States, is the NPC (or National Physique Committee) and it does have a place for natural athletes.

The NPC puts on a variety of amateur shows that range from the level 1 local Mr. Mayberry contest, to regional/L3 competitions, intermediate level shows like the Emerald Cup and Southern States, and of course the big-time pro-qualifiers like the USA's, Nationals (fmr. Mr. America), and the North American championships).

On an almost parallel note, the NPC also offers a string of natural shows across the United States, spread out during the regular bodybuilding season. Shiloe Steinmetz won one of these shows in 2004 (being crowned Mr. (Natural) Ohio). The pinnacle - or Super Bowl - of the natural NPC competition-calendar is the Team Universe - also a Pro-Qualifier that will get you an IFBB Pro Card.

Where it gets hokey is what happens if a natural bodybuilder wins a series of natural shows, gets to Team Universe, and wins the overall there. If he/she takes the coveted IFBB Pro Card and competes in IFBB shows, he (more likely than she) will have little to no chance of placing Top 6, much less of taking even a small, off-the-radar show (these are sometimes referred to as the $10,000 shows).

In many cases, top-level (Natural) national champions, guys like Skip LaCour, will turn down the IFBB Pro Card and continue competing at Team Universe. I guess it's a pretty obvious to me why I would do such a thing -- on the one hand I can be a celebrated and appreciated national champion, meanwhile on the other hand I can be one of many guys with a bunch of excuses, playing a violin as to why I came in dead last backstage while the Top 6 are on stage battling it out during the posedown,when point in fact I'm more ripped and balanced than the guy that will probably take the overall, but he's got me by 50lbs of muscle and the boatload of diuretics he took make my conditioning look like I've been drinking Kool-Aid Smoothies all afternoon.

It's not fair. I know... 'who said life was fair?' But this goes beyond not being fair, it would almost be a travesty of the entire sport of bodybuilding -- and it happens.

I have to dissent w/ John Romano (even though he's one of my idols -- and -- I do appreciate the huge balls he had to even reply... others who were sent this question: Tom Platz, Ron Avidan, and even Bob Paris who wrote directly on this topic and has spoken many times about tthe issue -- never responded). And while I truly commend Romano for having the guts to speak his mind to me -- a little weblogger he's never heard of -- I don't think he's on the money. I think food-based supplements and food itself, while scientifically-advanced as it may be procured does not even come into the same zip code has using synthetic hormones, insulin (which is 100x more dangerous than steroids [p.s. steroids aren't really dangerous -- just illegal], and synthol-type site inections.

Therefore, while I concede that food-based supplements have come a long way scientifically, I just can't put these -- or the herbal supplements (like tribulus, Maca, or Horny Goat Weed), fat-burners containing Ephedrine (which most natural bodybuilders don't use), and/or even DHEA or still-legal anti-aromatase OTC's (also largely not used by natural bodybuilders) in the same category as Deca, Tren, or Sustanon.

What do you guys think? I will publish a handful comments, but I will not allow this post to become a pile-up on Romano, because while his opinion is exteme -- it's valid to a certain extent, in that "natural bodybuilders" (some) seemingly take anything and everything that's not on their federation's banned list - and certainly, that begs the question... how natural is that?