Home » New NABBA judge blasts fed over "shocking" Universe 'pro' rules

New NABBA judge blasts fed over "shocking" Universe 'pro' rules

November 14, 2023

Two Pros win 'amateur' competition

NABBA has been criticised by one of their own newly qualified judges for a change in the rules that saw two professional athletes win the amateur Mr and Miss Universe.

Pete Lawson, who won the amateur NABBA Britain and World Championship in the Masters Over 45 category this year, says he “cannot believe the federation thought it was OK” to change their ‘definition of a professional’ at their committee meeting in June.

While the rule change did appear on their website, NABBA did not write to any of their paid members to ensure everyone was aware of the change, instead assuming their entire membership would have seen the information online.

It meant hundreds of amateur competitors prepared for this year’s NABBA Universe not realising that their chances of an overall or class victory had been reduced due to the fact that NABBA pros were now allowed to compete as amateurs.

And so it proved as former IFBB Pro Klaus Drescher from Austria – who had won the NABBA Worlds as a pro just five months previous – and Elodie Moore, whose instagram profile lists her as a NABBA Pro, won their class and overall titles at St George’s Hall, Bradford on October 28.

In June, NABBA had posted the following message on their website:

“DEFINITION OF A PROFESSIONAL currently pro division is temporarily withdrawn 2023.

“However, the following will apply until further notice: The NABBA Committee decided at their meeting on the eve of the NABBA Britain finals the following:

“Any Competitor who has obtained a pro card from any federation other than IFBB, can enter the NABBA Universe as an amateur competitor in any of the Universe amateur classes, or they can enter just the winners overall category in the finale with the overall winners becoming NABBA “Elite” Athletes.

“The clear 12-month wait before stepping on stage as an amateur has been relaxed this year. However, if anyone is an IFBB Pro they have to have a clear 12 months since stepping on stage as a pro competitor. This will commence for the NABBA Universe 2023 until further notice.”

Lawson, whose partner Sarah finished runner-up, was one of many to voice frustrations over the rule change.

He said: “No pro should ever compete against amateur in an amateur competition.

“I’m trying not to be controversial, but in four classes someone missed out on being Mr or Miss Universe. And some poor soul in seventh got cheated out of place in the top six.

“I’m shocked NABBA could think people would be OK with it.”

Lawson also aired criticism on Facebook, to which NABBA Scotland representative – and Universe Masters Over 45 winner – Mark Taylor replied: “Pete, I feel your frustration mate. Sarah Lawson was incredible but this [the change in the ‘definition of a pro’] was on the website mate after the NABBA Britain finals in June. I'm sorry, I can see the frustration this has caused.”

Again, MuscleMatters would argue that not everybody checks websites for sudden rules changes and, given athletes pay for a yearly membership and receive a membership card through the post, it would not be too far of a stretch to expect such important details to be communicated more directly.

Neale Cranwell, another Masters competitor, was planning on competing at the NABBA Britain in June, having qualified by winning his area show at the NABBA South-East in May.

But he wrote: “I got messaged by NABBA after wanting to do the NABBA Brit finals, but won my PCA pro card the week before at the PCA Universe, saying I couldn’t now compete … so what happened here?”

One rule for June’s British finals, but another was made immediately after.

In a further Facebook post, it appears NABBA did eventually apologise, with their official account writing: Yes, in hindsight what should or could have been agreed is that pros just enter in the overall. Sorry.”

It remains to be seen how NABBA will address this controversial issue going forward into 2024.

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