Skip La Cour’s Call to Action for the Drug-Free Bodybuilding Community!
(This was written years ago. How much of what I wrote still true today?)
By Skip La Cour
Six-Time National Drg-FreeChampion
Success and Leadership Coach
Competitive natural bodybuilders should be frightened! Why? The “natural bodybuilding movement” is in serious danger of being exterminated – without really having the chance to get started.
Passionate, ambitious drug-free competitors might be thinking, “What the heck are you talking about, La Cour?! The natural bodybuilding movement is stronger than ever. Never before has there been so much attention focused on this segment of bodybuilding or publicity given to drug-free competitors!”
At this particular moment, natural bodybuilding is enjoying unprecedented popularity. No doubt about it. I do fear, however, our “day in the sun” may not last much longer. The only chance for the survival of competitive natural bodybuilding is if our community makes some major changes in our beliefs, actions, and standards of excellence.
How could this possibly be? To fully understand my prophecy, we must examine the state of competitive natural bodybuilding deeper than its apparent surface. We must first reflect on how this attention on drug-free bodybuilding began. We must compare where the movement was a couple of years ago to where it is now.
Motivated by the deaths of high-profile bodybuilders, John Balik and Ironman magazine first started discussing this controversial issue on a large scale. They featured articles that offered strategies for drug-free physique development, showcased photos of natural bodybuilders, and even spearheaded a series of drug-tested contests. Although many natural enthusiasts were already committed to drug-free bodybuilding on a regional, state, and local scale, this was really the first time this segment of bodybuilding was given national and international recognition in a major bodybuilding magazine.
A little less than two years ago, supplement giant TWINLAB discontinued promoting non-tested bodybuilding contests and opted for sponsoring natural shows only. TWINLAB’s magazine switched its title to All Natural Muscular Development and dedicated its editorials to drug-free athletes. Guided by the leadership of Steve Blechman, the company sponsored drug-free bodybuilding stars and invested a significant amount of money in a national television commercial that conveyed its new purpose and mission.
Bill Phillips and Muscle Media turned their focus to the “regular guy in the gym” who trains naturally to build muscle and lose body fat. This was a big departure from their old format where they directed a considerable amount of attention to “intelligent” drug-use. EAS has hired several fine drug-free bodybuilders to represent their company.
There is no doubt about the fact that a few companies wanted to promote natural bodybuilding but encountered a little difficulty along the way. Many of these companies received angry letters that questioned their rational and sincerity of promoting natural bodybuilding. Many skeptics believed their actions were not done out of concern for the sport of bodybuilding. “They’re just using the drug issue as a way to make more money!” the pessimists said.
Many natural bodybuilders around the country were initially excited. “Now, we will have our chance for national magazine recognition. Our day has finally come!” they were certain.
That excitement would not last long. When the supposed supporters of natural bodybuilding saw the outstanding natural physiques featured in the magazines, their enthusiasm quickly waned. Their excitement and anticipation soon converted into frustration and anger. The bodybuilders pictured in the magazines were considered too good to be truly drug-free by those within the natural bodybuilding community.
Our community’s negativity has had a damaging impact. Let’s look where we are now as opposed to less than two years ago. Ironman and Balik received many complaints for their actions. Many people cited inconsistencies in their message and voiced their opinions in the forum of the bodybuilding magazine gossip columns. Although Ironman still has some drug-free information, their focus is not nearly the same as it was before.
All Natural Muscular Development was heavily bashed from the regular bodybuilding community – and the naturals alike. “How can you possibly call yourself ‘All Natural’ with the bodybuilders you feature?!” they wrote. If you look at the format of the magazine now, there is just a fraction of the attention paid to competitive drug-free bodybuilding. ANMD in the past profiled two outstanding natural bodybuilders in depth every month. Now they feature zero! The magazine is now more directed to a the scientific approach to “living a healthy lifestyle” through proper drug-free training, nutrition, and supplements.
Muscle Media, who features rather small natural bodybuilders, still received letters doubting the drug-free creditability of those athletes – as well as the creditability of the contestants of the Grand Spokesperson contest! I guess you just can’t please everybody. This magazine didn’t even waste time covering any contests. They went straight to the “regular guys” training without drugs.
The competitive natural bodybuilder is being skipped right over when it comes to national recognition and publicity!
Why would drug-free bodybuilders destroy their own sport and opportunities? Isn’t it true that most natural bodybuilders love natural bodybuilding? Aren’t natural bodybuilders passionate about living the drug-free training lifestyle? Aren’t most natural bodybuilders extremely proud to be drug free?
There is no doubt that natural bodybuilders love their sport. Who else would take the tougher road to build their physique and avoid the temptation of steroids and other drugs? They are also very passionate about what they are doing. Virtually every letter or e-mail I get from natural bodybuilders will either capitalize, bold print, underline, italicize, put an exclamation point after the word, or use a combination of all of the above when using the word “natural” or “drug-free” in an effort to separate themselves from their drug-assisted counterparts.
The passion of many natural bodybuilders works as a double-edged sword. It works for them – but also against them. I believe that many natural bodybuilders destroy the sport they are so committed to in the following ways:
- Many natural bodybuilders tightly cling to the disempowering belief that only so much can be achieved without drugs.
- The individual drug-free bodybuilder too often has a tremendous need to feel significant and important.
- Many natural bodybuilders question the legitimacy of the drug-free status of anyone who has achieved better development naturally.
- Many naturals talk negatively about competitive drug-free bodybuilding to anyone who will listen.
A requirement of any sport that hopes to prosper is that its standards of excellence must be constantly raised. Evolution, not stagnation, must occur. Competitive natural bodybuilding seems to thwart its own ability to flourish by creating limits to how good competitors can be.
Some drug-free bodybuilders have expectations that are much too low for what they can accomplish naturally. There are a lot of natural bodybuilders who find great comfort in believing that I and other accomplished natural bodybuilders are not drug free. But staying comfortable will not produce an outstanding natural physique. I get hundreds of letters from natural bodybuilders around the world who have been inspired through our influence to levels of development they would not have previously imagined.
What separates the destinies of two different bodybuilders who are exposed to the very same information? Their belief systems. When the believers eventually meet the non-believers on the competitive stage, one side is going to get “dusted”! I’m sure you know which one that will be.
Which leads me to a question: When is a physique considered too good to be natural? That depends on the belief system of the person who’s forming the opinion. I have seen guys weighing 130 pounds to 230+ pounds, ripped and not so ripped, and genetic freaks to genetic inferiors get accused of using drugs. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.
Natural bodybuilding is a sport in which the majority of our competitors will remain trapped under a “ceiling” that seemingly determines how much development they can achieve. Many natural bodybuilders are attacking anyone whom they even think might be taking drugs – whether that alleged use is in the present or in the past.
I believe this comes primarily out of the natural bodybuilder’s need to feel significant, special, or important. We all need to feel this way as humans – no matter how humble you think you are. The key distinction between a winner and loser is how they act upon this need.
Before natural bodybuilders were featured in national magazines, the majority of drug-free bodybuilders did feel special – no matter what level of development they had achieved. If someone was bigger, they just rationalized that the other person was on drugs and they weren’t. That was the only reason – therefore they still felt really special. “Well, I’m drug free and he isn’t,” they always reasoned. No facts were necessary here or requested. They could always look at themselves as “big fish in little ponds.”
Surely the inferiority had nothing to do with genetics, years of training, knowledge, work ethic, nutrition, training, or supplements. If their inferiority were due to these factors, then they would no longer be so special. People will hold fiercely onto the identity they have of themselves. The easy way to feel special is to tear down your rivals – not work harder. All you have to do is move your mouth!
When a competitive natural bodybuilder achieves outstanding muscle mass, balance, or conditioning, that competitor is immediately questioned if he is truly drug free by at least half of his audience and peers. I can’t tell you how many contests I’ve been to where the fans leave muttering amongst themselves, “There is no way that guy was drug free!,” or “Even if he is really drug free now, which I seriously doubt, I know he took drugs in the past! Even though my little Bobby only placed 6th, he’s drug free for life!” Look mom, you are not making little Bobby a better bodybuilder by providing him with excuses!
But these doubters go much farther than just complaining after a contest. They express their opinions with absolute certainty to everyone who will listen. They write letters to the magazines. They complain to contest promoters of the Musclemania Natural Bodybuilding Championships and other drug-free bodybuilding contests.
Let me ask you a question: If you had your major dollars invested in an ambitious project like cleaning up the competitive sport of bodybuilding, but received a ton of negative comments, how long would you persist?
To quote a highly influential source in this area that I will not name, “Bodybuilding is such a small market to begin with. When you reduce it down to natural bodybuilding, the market gets even smaller.” I imagine if I pushed him further on this point the person might add, “And the natural bodybuilding market is divided even further into those who believe and those who do not believe the top natural bodybuilding stars are drug free.
To sum up, we competitive natural bodybuilders are in serious danger of missing our opportunity to build our sport to full respectability and earn the magazine publicity we deserve. On second thought, do we collectively as natural bodybuilders deserve much of anything with our current attitudes? Are we simply getting what we deserve?
I, along with a very small handful of natural bodybuilders, have already earned some level of success. What we have already earned can’t be taken away. What is sad is that future outstanding athletes who deserve the same exposure and benefits as we do – if not more – are in danger of reaping nothing from their accomplishments.
Many drug-free bodybuilders go on to express negative opinions about how natural bodybuilding is such a sham. Does this sound like anyone you know? Are they being ambassadors of natural bodybuilding? Do they think they are going to enroll many more participants in the sport by sharing this limiting belief with everyone they know? Or are their actions just the result of their need to remain feeling significant, important, and special?
And you think it’s bad now? Because more and more natural bodybuilders are convinced that their fellow competitors are not truly drug-free, they are beginning to rationalize the possibility of them cheating the system themselves. This cycle of limiting beliefs is forcing natural bodybuilding to spiral downward.
So what will happen if we don’t raise our standards, let go of our individual need for significance, and talk highly of our sport? What will ultimately happen to competitive natural bodybuilding?
If TWINLAB and All Natural Muscular Development fail in their attempts to legitimize competitive natural bodybuilding, do you really believe there will be any more brave companies willing to attempt where TWINLAB failed? See you later, national publicity!
What will happen when promoters can’t get enough bodybuilders to enter their natural contests? Who’s going to pay for that expensive drug testing? Who will pay to come watch the show? Without making money or even breaking even, how many shows will the promoters be motivated to have? How many contests will there be to enter?
How do we as competitive natural bodybuilders ever expect to be pictured in national magazines, let alone earn endorsement contracts, if no one is interested in the sport in which we excel? To prevent the demise of competitive natural bodybuilding, we must all do some specific things immediately:
- We must change our beliefs and adopt ones that empower us.
- We must let go of our need for significance for the good of the entire sport.
- We must respect each other. We must give each other the benefit of our doubts that have been caused by our limiting beliefs. We must get inspired by those who accomplish more, and we must learn how they have done it.
- We must become positive ambassadors of our sport.
It’s time to change your beliefs. Haven’t you accomplished more as a natural bodybuilder than you believed you would years ago? How have you made that change in your beliefs? Whatever you did then to change those limiting beliefs, you must to start doing now. You must act as if your development will become outstanding when you find the right strategies and give yourself enough time. That is an empowering belief!
You must get over yourself. This is a very large world and there is a great possibility that someone can be better than you naturally. It may be hard to swallow for some of us, but it’s the truth.
Give other natural bodybuilders the respect they deserve. If you are not as good as another bodybuilder, re-examine your habits. Raise your standards! Use them to motivate you to get to the next level.
“Any physique that everyone believes is natural is a natural physique that isn’t worth having.”
–Skip La Cour
You must become an ambassador of the sport of natural bodybuilding. If you were to talk to the top natural bodybuilding stars as I have had the privilege to do, they are just as passionate about this sport as you are. You must adopt the belief that their God-given genetics, knowledge, work ethic, years of training, or a combination of all of the above are superior to yours. Don’t just make yourself feel good by convincing yourself that they must be on drugs and are cheating the system.
Give the leaders, promoters, and financial backers of natural bodybuilding your full support! John Balik originally started national magazine coverage, created the NPC Ironman Naturally series of contests, and should be given the credit he deserves.
Steve Blechman of TWINLAB deserves to be commended for the steps he has taken to open the doors for the competitive natural bodybuilder. He has invested a large amount of money and has taken a lot of grief for his efforts. I hope he continues with his original plan.
Bill Phillips of EAS deserves a round of applause for what he has done for competitive natural bodybuilding. Although his magazine does not provide contest coverage, he has taken our sport to another level with his EAS Grand Spokesperson Contest. While some natural bodybuilders in the gym will never set their sights on entering a bodybuilding contest, drug tested or not, many will now raise their standards of what they expect from their physiques in order to win an expensive car. Some will join us on stage – but all will have more respect and admiration for what we have done for years.
Thousands and thousands of these entrants are pushing natural bodybuilding to the next level and are achieving “unbelievable” results. These noncompetitive bodybuilders are making us re-examine what we previously believed was achievable. This new army is setting a new standard!
Here are a few final questions: What are your new beliefs about what you can accomplish with your drug-free physique? Will you let go of your own need to feel important? Will you give natural bodybuilders who are currently better than you the credit they deserve? Will you become a better ambassador for natural bodybuilding and promote the sport you love in a positive manner?
The future of competitive natural bodybuilding depends on it!
Train Hard. Think Big.
Go here to join my email Newsletter for helpful tip and other updates. You’ll get two free ebooks when you do.