Barely a week went by before the Jim Manion – Lee Thompson agreement appeared to be broken. Although it was unique to begin with (as the IFBB/NPC had never made such a pact with any other bodybuilding organization before, the 1982 AAU-NPC court decision notwithstanding), one had to figure that it would lie dormant for a while before one side or the other did something that may be construed as breaking said agreement. But that was not the case.
Appearing on ifbb.com was an official press release located in a prime location on the top right side of the Home page with bright red lettering stating ‘warning’ over it. When clicked on, it opened to a new page dated 11/26/15:
As per the original agreement, neither Manion nor Thompson can comment on it. But the above communication did come out of Spain and apparently from Dr. Rafael Santoja, who is listed as the International President in the IFBB’s Executive Council.
“That has to do with the amateur IFBB federation,” said Steve Weinberger, who is a long time official in the IFBB/NPC and Manion’s right hand man. “It has nothing to do with us at all and I’m not even sure why they put that up. It’s not even up on our website.”
Weinberger is referring to ifbbprofessionalleague.com, the website that lists Manion as the President of the IFBB. (Manion is listed as the Vice President of North America in the IFBB’s Executive Council on ifbb.com.)
According to Thompson, the two statements (Manion’s agreement and the Warning notice) seem to be “conflicting,” and Charles Johnson, lead counsel for the Nspire Sports League, told us that he was “fighting mad” over this.
We also contacted Santoja and the IFBB office in Spain for a comment and have yet to receive one as of this writing.
From what we can surmise, it appears that there is a lack of communication between IFBB personnel and the two factions (amateur and professional) need to have a less ambiguous chain of command. Because both are part of the IFBB and there is no mention of ‘amateur’ in the Warning statement, it can be construed as a back door way around the Manion-Thompson agreement – especially since Manion took it a step further by sending out his own personal memo (right) giving direct orders to the NPC District Chairpersons to not “intimidate, threaten, punish, harass and/or coerce Lee Thompson and/or Nspire’s current and/or prosepctive (sic) athletes” either “doing business with or considering doing business with Mr. Thompson.”
The IFBB Legal Commission ‘Warning’ notice does just that when they refer to article 19.4.7 in the current IFBB Constitution:
7. Any athlete or official who participates in a competition or event not approved or sanctioned by the IFBB, may be fined, suspended or expelled. The amount of the fine as well as the suspension period will be decided by the IFBB Disciplinary Commission, within the maximum limit as established by the Executive Council. Once the suspension has been completed and before participating in an IFBB competition or event, the athlete must be drug tested at his or her own expenses. In special circumstances, the IFBB Disciplinary Commission may recommend to the Executive Council the expulsion of the athlete or the official. Participation shall include, but shall not be limited to, competing, guest posing, giving a seminar, lecture or similar presentation, judging, officiating, allowing the use of one’s name and/or likeness for promotional purposes, and/or taking part in a non- IFBB sanctioned competition or event in any other way, shape, or form.
The respective lawsuits (Manion and Thompson’s) that were dropped were done so contingent on the agreement signed by both men. Did the IFBB violate it by their international office putting out that press release?
It would not come as a shock to find all parties in court to decide on just that.