Q: I’m interested in competing in natural bodybuilding. I started looking for shows, and I’ve found a plethora of natural bodybuilding organizations. Why is that? More important, which organization would you recommend?
A: I totally understand your confusion about the natural bodybuilding organizations. A quick search yielded the following: OCB, IFPA, NGA, INBF, WNBF, ABA, INBA, WNSO (FAME), Musclemania, USNBA, USBF, IDFA, SNBF, NABF, NANBF, ONBF, NPA, IBA, BLNPA and NFSO. That’s 20 organizations, and new ones are popping up all the time. In some cases promoters of natural bodybuilding have had issues with their sanctioning organizations. Instead of finding another established natural organization, they just started their own.
I’ve known of other promoters who were also athletes who created their own “natural” organization to match their own natural status, such as one, three or five years drug-free, complete with various definition of “drug-free.” Still others formed their own organizations so that they could collect both the entry fees and the organization’s membership fees. It’s mind-boggling if you’re an athlete trying to get started in the sport.
For those who aren’t familiar with the various organizations, just come compete in my show, the NPC Texas Shredder Classic. Seriously, although the NPC is not known for natural bodybuilding, the number of drug-tested NPC contests is growing rapidly. Dave Liberman has been promoting NPC natural shows in Ohio very successfully for years. Just off the top of my head I can name seven states that have NPC natural shows, and most of them have more than one.
It requires promoters who are willing to take the risk on a natural show to get things started. I’ve been promoting the Texas Shredder Classic for 11 years now. My first year to sanction it with the NPC was 2008, and the organization allowed me to do the same drug testing I’ve always done. The response was so great that our state and district chairman, Lee Thompson, has committed to promoting an NPC Natural Texas State Championships next year. Corey Pavitt stepped out on a limb last year and promoted a natural NPC contest in Juneau, Alaska. Due to the excitement his contest generated, NPC promoters Garry Loeden and Philip Bradfield added the Natural Crystal Cup to their contest schedule in Anchorage.
You’re probably wondering why I’m going on and on about NPC natural contests. Well, when you compete in the NPC, you generally get a lot more competition and a lot more coverage.
Regardless of which organization(s) you compete in, you should look for certain qualities. One is the drug-free requirement. I haven’t examined every one of them, but some organizations accept only lifetime drug-free athletes. Most, however, put a time limit on drug-free status, such as one year or several years. Some don’t specify an amount of time that an athlete must be drug-free. For those organizations you have to be clean enough only to pass the test, usually urinalysis. The next thing to look at is the banned-substance list.
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