On Sept. 14, professional bodybuilder Lionel Beyeke announced on his Instagram page that he’s withdrawing from the 2021 Arnold Classic, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, in Columbus, OH. Beyeke’s withdrawal is due to travel restrictions from his home country of France to the U.S., related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement was made in the caption of an Instagram post highlighting progress pictures of Beyeke’s current physique. You can see the post below, courtesy of Beyeke’s Instagram page:
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“Unfortunately, the scourge of the virus has prevented French citizens from gaining entry into the US in time for me to compete and achieve my objectives,” Beyeke wrote. “One of these objectives that I have not been able to fulfill is to be able to participate in the Arnold Classic 2021 this year. This is a regret that I must put behind me as I continue to work hard to be even better for the upcoming competitions which I hope to be able to attend.”
Beyeke’s Contest History
This is the second straight year that Beyeke has pulled out of the Arnold Classic lineup. He missed the 2020 contest due to personal reasons. William Bonac won the 2020 AC and is defending his title this year. Beyeke has competed in this contest four times before in his professional career, with his highest placing being fourth in 2017. He also placed 12th in 2012 and 2015, and sixth in 2018.
Beyeke has also stepped on the Mr. Olympia stage three times. He placed 10th in 2012 and 2013 and dropped to 11th in 2017. Seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath won the title at each Olympia Beyeke entered. Beyeke has had a storied career. According to musclememory.com, he’s competed in over 30 contests since 2008. He’s logged three wins — the 2008 National Amateur Bodybuilders’ Association Mr. Universe; the 2012 Flex Pro in Santa Monica, CA, and the 2016 San Marino Pro, held in Italy.
The last contest Beyeke competed in was the 2020 Romania Pro — Beyeke placed fifth, and Regan Grimes won the contest.
The next contest outside of the United States is the inaugural Arnold Classic UK contest, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, in Birmingham, England. As of this writing, Beyeke has not said whether he intends to enter the show or not. There is also no word from the Arnold UK organizers if he’ll be able to enter this contest this close to the competition.
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Beyeke’s removal from the Arnold Classic USA lineup is the second in as many weeks. 2017 Arnold Classic Champion Cedric McMillan withdrew from the 2021 competition due to injury. He will still be in Columbus, OH taking part in the commentary for the contest.
With just two weeks before the contest (when this article was written), it isn’t clear if another competitor will take Beyeke’s place. If not, that leaves 12 men in the lineup to compete for one of bodybuilding’s most prestigious titles as well as the final qualification spot for the 2021 Mr. Olympia contest, taking place on the weekend of Oct. 7-10 in Orlando, FL.
Featured Image: @lionelbeyeke on Instagram