IFBB Split & What It Means for Athletes

Question: From Gina Cavaliero John Hawley so hey, was wondering if you could post up a synopsis for lack of a better word about everything that has transpired lately with the NPC, IFBB Pro League, and the emergence of at least I think two new leagues as well? Not sure. I follow your posts and check with sources like NPC news but I’m not very clear on what all has happened and what it means for us athletes. I know the IFBB America says they will award pro cards but will they be recognized with IFBB Professional? I’m confused and I’m guessing others might be as well.

IFBB Split & What It Means for Athletes

(In my view based on opinion and some hearsay: Corrections welcome) In brief, there was a split after the 2017 Olympia between the international amateur organization known as the IFBB and AMI that owns the Olympia and the IFBB Pro League that runs the professional pro circuit. The dust-up that weekend came as the NPC leadership headed the judging panel for AMI’s first Las Vegas Amateur Olympia judging panel. As a result the international amateur organization perennial President Rafael Santoyo suspended the NPC as their national amateur affiliate in the United States. Before the close of 2017 the NPC & IFBB Pro League had come up with and established dates for 52 International Pro Qualifying events positioned around the world with existing well known and trusted promoters. That circuit of contests has been referred to as a “Game Changer” as it allows anyone from around the world including the U.S. based NPC athletes to enter the event without national residency or qualification and compete for overall and the right to prostatus with such a win. Thus, as with Florida’s sizable Latino population from the Caribbean, South and Central America you no longer must try to win six to eight national qualifier overalls and petition your country to afford you pro-status. Instead now anyone can go to International Pro Qualifiers in Colombia, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and dozens of other locations to compete for overall that for each division will be awarding IFBB Pro status and the right to compete at any of the existing pro show circuit and right to qualify for the biggest stage of all the Olympia. The separate international amateur organization likewise created their own circuit called Elite Pro. Through this circuit it appears you can likewise compete for fast-track pro qualifying. Why would they do this? They must seed their pro-circuit quickly as the season has already started and the likelihood is that most existing pros will stay with the IFBB Pro League. Consider too that the Arnold Sports Festival with contests in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Africa, Asia & Europe decided best to initially go with nationally affiliated amateur leagues meaning they are doing business with both leagues on different continents. Columbus and Australian events are IFBB Pro League and South America, Africa and Europe are IFBB although its unclear who will be on the athlete invite lists when announced for those latter events. Athletes in the various national federations around the world can compete in their existing amateur circuit and earn the right for pro status where available to then compete in their Elite Pro circuit and for years their President Santoyo, who operates their federation from his business in Spain has held out the claim that one day soon they will get bodybuilding back in the Olympic Games. There is no evidence from the International Olympic Committee that this is likely or even possible to actually be a Winter or Summer Olympic game event or that it would include any divisions other than bodybuilding, but there are indeed lots of activities not recognized as sports actually that have “recognition” by the IOC. What Santoyo has done in the U.S. is find other former Pro League and NPC promoters to piece together a national amateur circuit called the Physique America with state chairs in Texas followed by Florida along with one or more contests to attract athletes with the possibility that by winning overall you may earn the right to be on the national team where they then pay your expenses to compete overseas at another amateur event for the right to win a metal. Problems exist though in that as some communication with athletes they were recruiting claiming if someone else other than the overall looked better they might let them represent the team. Plus, their show circuit according to postings by their leadership is true natty requiring everyone to be urine tested. Thus, what would be the point of anyone who might not pass such a test due to knowingly or unknowingly having ingested banned WADA supplements entering for a chance at competing overseas for a metal? Their ability to challenge the leading amateur bodybuilding federation in the U.S. on its on turf with a large scale established network of show promotions will be a daunting challenge especially if they hamstring themselves focused on being a “true natty” organization that then essentially puts their target audience more in competition with the natty organizations. As for who can compete where the NPC circuit allows anyone to compete regardless of where they have competed before as they do not recognize other organizations. The IFBB Pro League requires that you have qualified through the NPC or one of the International Pro League Qualifiers the first of which was held in Tunisia on Jan. 6, 2018. However, IFBB Pro League athletes are restricted from competing in other professional federations. The international amateur organization is much more restrictive of who can participate in their events having put out a memo that athletes competing in Columbus Arnold Amateur would be suspended from their organization due to them being affiliated with the NPC. It’s basically a scare tactic to try and reduce participation in those events while building support for their fledgling league. Competition is good though and athletes now have more choices. My recommendation to amateur athletes is to continue with the NPC circuit stateside and for them to consider the Pro League’s new International Pro Qualifying events where you can bypass “national qualifiers” and compete directly for IFBB Pro League status. International athletes I’d likewise recommend the Pro League’s International Pro Qualifiers as unlike the other international amateur organization where you win your overall you are granted pro status without further stipulations, hidden fees, etc. For pros wanting to earn a right to compete in the Olympia the only route is the IFBB Pro League. There will be some pros looking at the prize money awards in the Elite Pro circuit questioning if they should make the jump and possibly become the emerging big dawgs in that circuit. Their prize money is about half the typical $20K for open bodybuilding in the IFBB Pro League. That said loosing the opportunity to compete in a reputable pro circuit with a route to the Olympia is problematic considering you would be barred from reentry, don’t know how you would be judged or if they make awards considering their reputation with amateurs and would require you to almost without exception compete strictly overseas as they have no network of U.S. based competitions. Know that I’ve got a bias to the federation circuit athletes, promoters and federation leadership I’ve built strong relationships with, but recognize there are pros and cons to choices people make and hope you do so with the knowledge of what’s in your best interest. www.Musclepapa.com

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