Communication Breakdown in the IFBB

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:

IFBB warning

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.)

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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.

OUR OBSERVATION NPC memo

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.

Pro IFBB? Pro NSL? We’re Pro MuscleSport Mag on 11/16 Gregg & Joe Show

Contrary to popular belief, MuscleSport Magazine is not anti-IFBB and pro-Nspire Sports League, but rather a media outlet reporting the news – for good or bad. In other words, we’re pro-MSM and that’s it. We want to give our readers a good story and if it’s one that pertains to the bodybuilding industry that we cover, we will do so with no restraints like Muscular Development and FLEX have on them.

Hear co-hosts Gregg Valentino and Joe Pietaro’s views about this subject and more on the 11/16/15 episode of The Gregg and Joe Show Presented By MuscleSport Magazine. Also available on iTunes.

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IFBB/NPC Response To Lee Thompson Promoting Their Shows

In our mantra of remaining neutral and merely reporting newsworthy industry information, we have received a response to our request from the IFBB/NPC in regards to Lee Thompson still promoting contests under their banner. That has been a topic of much debate and speculation and we had only one side of the story. So this was a conversation that we welcomed with open arms.

MuscleSport Magazine was contacted by a reliable source in the IFBB/NPC that requested to remain anonymous and informed us that the two shows (NPC Formulation 1 Classic held on October 17 in Houston, Texas and the NPC Texas Fall Classic held on November 7 in Irving, Texas – both national qualifiers) that Thompson promoted since leaving the IFBB/NPC were not cancelled because doing so would have been unfair to the competitors and that the ones who qualified for a national-level NPC show will in fact be honored. 58c0060cf0632381622849b900fbe6eb

The source further stated that Thompson had previously paid for the sanctions of the contests for the remainder of the year and it would have had to be resolved by the courts to put another promoter in place to run them. Also, Jim Manion preferred to have a “peaceful transition.”

Regarding the upcoming Space City Physique NPC Championships (scheduled for December 12 in Houston, Texas), the source stated that this is not a NPC show and the infringement lawsuit filed by Manion and the NPC against Thompson was partially in response to the NPC logo being prominently displayed on the flyers for this contest.

MSM has also reached out to Thompson for a comment regarding this information, who informed us that he was in fact reimbursed the sanction fee that he paid for the December 12 show but that it was never discussed to do the same for the two prior shows. “That was never on the table,” says Thompson.

Asked about the possibility of the NPC reimbursing him for all three of the shows to avoid confusion, Thompson quickly quipped, “They didn’t want to lose the money; those were big shows. They made about $30,000 and $23,000 (respectively) on them.” 12219496_866986020066207_4317307744137296990_n

In response to the flyer for the December 12 contest, Thompson and Nspire Sports League lead counsel Charles Johnson stated that the original artwork was done back in November of 2014 when the NPC Texas schedule was first drawn up and the one being posted on forums such as Muscular Development’s No Bull was in fact the old one (shown above) that was posted on a Facebook page months ago when it was still in fact valid (pre-NSL).

Thompson has been posting the new flyer (right) and it does not have any mention of the NPC. It is, in fact, what Thompson calls the “soft launch” for the NSL.

“It’s going to be a test run for our new divisions and new transparent judging software program,” he explains. “We’ll have our hard launch in March.”

Since Thompson will be running the December 12 show under the NSL – and not the NPC – banner, there has been a new show added to the calendar for the same date in Houston. “They added this show three weeks ago after Ed and Betty Pariso were named as my successors in Texas,” says Thompson. “And it shows you how desperate they are by rolling out 80 IFBB pros to be there…that’s more than they do for Jim Manion in Pittsburgh (an IFBB pro show held in the league president’s hometown that attracts a guest posing line-up that rivals the Arnold or Olympia).

“They’re bringing out the entire army against me at my first show (under NSL). Why not do this for a Muscle Mania or Paul Dillet (WBFF) show?”

Lastly, we have confirmation from the IFBB/NPC that Thompson did in fact resign and was not fired, as Muscular Development’s Bob Cicherillo had reported on numerous occasions. Thompson had said all along that it was his choice to leave and Cicherillo posted on the MD website’s forum that the IFBB/NPC had made the decision. “Lee has been removed from his position,” and “he was let go” are two examples of the erroneous information that the IFBB pro/athlete’s rep/emcee had posted.

Nspire Launch, Lawsuits & New Arnold Qualification Criteria on 11/9 Gregg & Joe Show

Topics aplenty are on the docket today as the soap opera that is the bodybuilding industry went into warp drive this past weekend. First, the lawsuit volley between Jim Manion/NPC and Lee Thompson/Nspire Sports League will be covered. Then the NSL official unveiling at Muscle Beach will be dissected, as will the new MPD and WPD criteria for the 2016 Arnold Classic (first reported by Christian Duque of Strength Addicts.com).

Hear co-hosts Gregg Valentino and Joe Pietaro’s views about this subject and more on the 11/9/15 episode of The Gregg and Joe Show Presented By MuscleSport Magazine. Also available on iTunes.

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“Rigged” Contests, Assault, Extortion, Tax Fraud Lawsuit Filed Against Manion, NPC

This is shaping up to be one bizarre weekend in the bodybuilding industry. On Thursday, November 5, Lee Thompson filed a multiple allegation lawsuit against Jim Manion and the NPC, and then he promoted a contest for that very same organization before heading out to Muscle Beach for the official unveiling of his newly formed Nspire Sports League on November 8.

MuscleSport Magazine has obtained a copy of said two-pronged, eight-page lawsuit and it includes allegations of “unlawful conduct” that Thompson observed during his tenure at the NPC on their board of governors and the Chairperson for the state of Texas. It also delves into alleged criminal activity By Manion and the NPC since the formation of the NSL (formerly NPC Global).

The lawsuit states that throughout his affiliation with the NPC, Thompson personally “discovered countless instances of unethical, unlawful and underhanded conduct on part of Manion, Manion’s subordinates and employees” of the NPC, and said conduct was “directed towards industry sponsors, athletes competing in unaffiliated events and athletes competing in National Physique-sanctioned events. Such conduct included, but was not limited to, extortion, coercion, intimidation, assault, battery, fraud, fraudulent inducement, tortious interference and duress.”

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The suit further alleges that Thompson uncovered “contests that were “rigged” in an effort to exert additional control over the industry and those participating in same. The judging and/or scoring of these competitions was “rigged” in order to ensure that certain athletes won competitions and to ensure that certain athletes failed to win competitions.” Another point was Thompson encountering “numerous instances of tax fraud on the part of National Physique in an effort to maintain its non-profit status and enrich its officers and directors.”

Regarding what has happened since Thompson left the NPC in September, the suit alleges that he has been the “victim of various attempts by Manion and National Physique to tortuously interfere with his and Nspire’s attempts to organize, promote, market and conduct Nspire-sanctioned events and competitions. National Physique and Manion have harassed, threatened, intimidated, punished, banner and/or ostracized athletes and sponsors in the industry as a result of their affiliation with Thompson and/or Nspire.”

There is also a reference to a similar lawsuit filed against the NPC in 1982 by the AAU (the organization that Manion broke away from to form the NPC) with, “In  that lawsuit, the Court enjoined National Physique from punishing, threatening or interfering in any way with any persons on account of their participation in AAU competitions. National Physique has continued its tortious and illegal conduct to this day as it now engages in similar attempts to stymie competition from Nspire.”
This is an application for temporary injunction and permanent injunction and exceeds $75,000 in damages (the minimum jurisdictional requirement of the court applied to).
We have reached out to both sides for comments and have yet to receive a response as of this writing.