Corruption at the highest level is running rampart in the IFBB and even their vaunted Mr. Olympia title may be tainted, according to information provided by Lee Thompson exclusively to MuscleSport Magazine.
“It’s Jim Manion’s call,” the former NPC/IFBB official and current NSL Commissioner said. “You’re told it in his code and that’s the way you score it.”
Thompson alleges that the IFBB Pro League President walks up and down the judges’ table and will say that a certain competitor “looks good,” which means to score that one over the others. This is based on a number of reasons, more specifically what magazine and supplement company that bodybuilder is signed with.
“It equals better sales,” commented Thompson, meaning that AMI/FLEX promotes the Olympia and it comes with title sponsorship from supplement companies.
2014 MR. OLYMPIA
Having a contest of this magnitude have a close finish is nothing out of the ordinary and it makes it more interesting for the fans of the Iron Game, as well. But there may have been more to the story besides who had a more impressive rear lat spread.
Phil Heath was the reigning champion but was getting a run for his money once again from Kai Greene. “A lot of the (judges) panel felt that Kai was better,” said Thompson. “Jim was telling everyone that ‘Phil looks good.’ I actually had Phil winning on Friday and Kai on Saturday.”
When the judges scores were collected, it became known amongst them that Heath would in fact win his fourth consecutive Olympia. Thompson stated that he was sitting at the judges table with Manion and Steve Weinberger, with Bev Francis seated in the row behind them. (Francis was not judging).
“As soon as Bev heard that Phil was going to win, she began screaming at Steve, ‘Make this right. It’s about our gym,’” Thompson said. “We did all that we could to keep her under control. I thought that she was going to start throwing chairs.”
Thompson explained that Greene trains at the Powerhouse Gym – which is owned by Weinberger and Francis – and it would have been a coup to be able to promote the fact that Mr. Olympia built his physique there.
“Thompson is a liar,” Weinberger told MuscleSport Mag when contacted for a comment. He further denied the above version of the events, as did Francis, who said the following.
“Personally, I liked Kai (to win the show). It was a close contest and it was obviously one and two between him and Phil. It could have gone either way.
“When the scores came down, I saw one of the judge’s notes (Editor’s note: Francis could not recall the name of this particular judge but stated that he was fairly new and a foreign man) and he had Kai in second so I asked him why,” continued Francis. “Lee heard this and then said that he had Kai in third place.”
At this point, according to Francis, she became “incredulous” because she felt strongly about Greene being no worse than second. “And it’s not because he trains at my gym sometimes; it’s just my opinion.”
Francis further stated that she was mad at Thompson and told him that he didn’t know how to judge and that she “threw up” her hands and walked away at that point.
Added Francis, “Jim may have said that Heath looked good, but that doesn’t mean (he) is going to win. It’s just saying that he looks good. There’s no code words…and I’ve judged countless pro shows.”
Weinberger reiterated that there are no code words used by Manion to the judges.
MuscleSport Mag requested a comment from Manion that was not answered as of this writing.
Taking a step back and trying to ascertain some possible explanations here, neither Heath nor Greene were under contract by the title sponsor Ultimate Nutrition, but both were (at the time) Weider athletes. But there was apparently some type of situation going on behind-the-scenes between Greene and AMI and that culminated in him not signing his 2015 Olympia contract and sitting out that show.
2008 MR. OLYMPIA
Jay Cutler was certainly the favorite heading into Las Vegas that year, but the then-two-time defending champion injured his bicep during prep. “(That) threw a monkey wrench into their plans,” Thompson said in reference to Cutler getting the win as both a Weider athlete and the main one on the Muscle Tech roster, who just happened to be the title sponsor that year.
“On Friday night, he (Cutler) was still in the middle (during prejudging comparisons),” added Thompson. “It was still Jay all day with Manion, who was telling us ‘This guy looks good.’ But by Saturday night, (the arm) was all black and blue. Second place was a true gift.”
Dexter Jackson ended up getting the nod over Cutler and while he was deserving physique-wise, it is also important to note that he, too, was a fellow Weider and Muscle Tech athlete.
IFBB Athlete Representative Bob Cicherillo has been very vocal about Thompson and his previous claims insinuating that IFBB contests were “rigged.”
“(It’s) hard to take anything he says as factual when he has lied about many things and admitted multiple times to being corrupt,” he said. “I don’t pretend to know what was ever told to Lee (by Manion) and I certainly don’t take Lee’s account with anything of substance. I have caught Lee in numerous lies over the years.”
The big question is if these fit Cicherillo’s description or not.
Photos: Andrzej Jaworski/AJ JAWA Photo