IFBB Natural Pro Division?
We all dream of the day when the IFBB will have a Natural Pro Division, that would give natural competitors at the NPC level, a place to go. By natural, we don't just mean "tested" (e.g. NPC Team Universe), we mean natural - free of AAS; however, the next hurdle involves, what exactly do we consider "natural."
I, for one, believe that a natural bodybuilder, taking pro-hormones, should have no issue competing as such. Prohormones, while very potent, are no where near as powerful as the pharmaceutical agents flooding most NPC shows (beyond Level 3) and throughout the IFBB. Additionally, assuming that any pro-hormone could mimick AAS, a person would have to be popping pills non-stop day and night to get up to the dosages that some bodybuilders shoot up -- not only is it unlikely, it's not practical. If you take prohormones, you're still 100% natural in my book.
I think there are many genetic freaks walking around the gym that would love to compete, but don't want to get annihilated in terms of size and definition [in "open" or "untested" shows]. It used to be, that a natural could upstage a juicer if he came in FREAKY DRY, but even those days are becoming much fewer and far between. I see NO EVIL with AAS - I think they have a far more legitimate claim to be decriminalized and made available to the public (under medical supervision) than Marijuana (any day of the week). However, I'm also keen to the fact that it's just NOT FAIR to have a line up with guys taking roids to grow, then diuretics to get ripped, while the poor bastard that trains off of a bump of creatine and who's living off asparaus to get every last drop of water out of his body is dying because he feels bloated and tiny.
I think companies like IronMagLabs offer the poor bastard (above) some options, which is great news for naturals, but it's still not enough. Another issue, probably the most important (for the promoters), is one that IronMagLabs Nat'l Spokesperson, Aaron Singerman, discussed in his recent interview for StrengthAddicts ( :coffee: Aaron Singerman of RxMuscle.com - Speaks to - StrengthAddicts.com :clapping: ).
We should figure out a solution -- one day. The naturals I know, do not want to compete in a crazy federation that has a Wall of Shame (an online, musical list of people that "fail" their ridiculous test). They also don't want to compete in organizations that ban Prohormones, Ephedrine, and even DHEA. DHEA, seriously?! What's next, creatine? Dextrose too?! There's natural and then there's stupid.
Everyone wants to compete on an NPC stage - it's the biggest, baddest show on Earth. Take a champion like Shiloe Steinmetz (NPC Natural Mr. Ohio), he's not only won his state's top title, but he's also won the Heavyweight at Team Universe. Where would Shiloe go if he actually won the TeamU overall and went pro? Has Jeff Willett won any IFBB titles since going pro? And why did Skip LaCour qualify several times at TeamU but never applied for Pro status? In fact, one of the only TeamU winners winning Pro shows, is Kai Greene. I'm sorry, but I have a hunch Kai is no longer NATURAL, lol.
The NPC has a natural circuit, which I believe are essentially feeder shows for Team Universe; however, the Pro ranks offer nothing for those natural champions. These guys (and ladies) are NPC veterans, they don't want to skip out and do battle on a WNBF, MuscleMania, or IFPA stage! We have bodybuilding and physique, why not have a natural division?
Sadly, we need to come back to reality as well. Aaron's point in StrengthAddicts' interview is on point. Will Natural Bodybuilding pay for itself? If not, the last thing the promoters want, is another division that requires subsidies in order to survive.
I believe that in time Natural Bodybuilding will provide sufficient interest to warrant gutsy promoters to take a healthy risk on it. The real deal is getting that MARKETING that only the NPC/IFBB have been able to develop - as being the top dog for so many decades.
The natty federatons (and there's several of them) have taken care of some of the guess work for us. They have proven that natural bodybuilding on its own, can fuel shows, keep a national magazine afloat, and garner interest from the supplement companies for advertising. Now it's a question of whether the Big Fish in the pond wants a bite?
Finally, I believe that Ben Weider's vision for bodybuilding as an Olympic sport, continues to be echoed by many of the sport's most respected champions, journalists, and fans. If and when the NPC/IFBB decides to make this a priority again, it will be a guy like Skip LaCour representing the United States, not Ronnie Coleman. Cheers!