In a monumental decision, attendees at the 2014 Natural Bodybuilding Alliance Summit in Ramona, CA, voted unanimously to immediately disassociate with any and all U.S. based natural bodybuilding organizations that have not been in existence for at least 7 consecutive years.
Representatives from the largest amateur and professional natural bodybuilding organizations in the world were resolute in their decision in response to the endless proliferation of upstart and revived organizations that have divided the sport for decades by piggybacking on the larger, more established organizations to enhance their reputations and credibility.
Perhaps WNBF President Nancy Andrews explained it best. “The small organizations that keep popping up take away from the more established organizations. All of these titles and federations make wins not as meaningful. This is a concern because anyone can start up a small federation, but if they looked at the big picture, they are hurting the sport.”
The consensus was that the fragmentation of the sport has diluted potential prize money, sponsors, and attendance, and placed natural bodybuilding at a distinct disadvantage with the untested sector of bodybuilding.
Attending organizations also agreed to:
- submit their banned substances lists to the NBA for possible consolidation into a single list to which all would adhere, with the removal of certain stimulants not relevant to the sport of natural bodybuilding under consideration.
- prohibit any bodybuilders from presenting awards or guest posing at any of their sanctioned events unless those individuals are natural bodybuilders recognized by the sanctioning organization.
- share with each other the names of those athletes who test positive and prohibit those athletes from competing in each other’s events; since each organization imposes different penalties for different offenses, whatever the length of the ban imposed by the offended organization for a particular violation would be honored by the other organizations accordingly.
- limit the number of pro bodybuilding contests to not more than 10 per year per organization so that prize money can be concentrated in larger amounts per contest; this does not include separate pro shows in other categories (i.e. figure, physique, etc.).
- share athlete and attendance figures with the NBA to develop a collective marketing strategy for soliciting more sponsors and greater media coverage.
- establish a professional dress code for contest officials, judges, presenters, and other contest personnel acting in a capacity visible to the public – while this is yet to be specifically defined, it was generally agreed that men would wear a suit and tie and women would wear a dress or dress slacks - in other words, professional attire.
- all of the organizations are already using essentially the same mandatory poses for bodybuilding but agreed to send descriptions and/or photos/diagrams to the NBA of what they are each using to ensure that everyone is on the same page; poses/protocol for other categories of competition are still under discussion.
Items discussed but still under consideration include:
- drug testing protocol
- using same testing labs to minimize costs by volume
- length of ban for PED violations (currently 7 years to life)
- exceptions for drug violations attributed to valid medical conditions with a doctor’s verification
- uniform drug testing among all organizations (polygraph and urine)
- height classes vs weight classes in bodybuilding
- judging criteria for different categories of competition
- each organization designating one contest each in 2014 to be attended and supported by the heads of the other organizations to further develop trust and familiarity among the organizations with the ultimate objective of promoting a single “world” championship under the collective banner of all of the organizations by 2015.
While the attending organizations were in agreement on many issues, there remain substantial differences among them that will have to be resolved in the coming months if they are to forge a lasting alliance. Still, the spirit of cooperation was high, and the fact that these organizations were willing to meet with each other to discuss these difficult issues is a testament to their commitment to natural bodybuilding and is promising for the future of the sport.
This year’s Summit took place at the Ramona Valley Grill in Ramona, CA, 30 miles east of San Diego. Organizations in attendance were the WNBF/INBF (represented by Tina Smith); the ABA, INBA, and PNBA (represented by Denny and Diana Kakos); the IFPA/OCB (represented by Kareem Petteway); the NANBF (represented by Katy Wayman-White); and the UNBA (an IFPA affiliate represented by Eric and Doris Waits).