IFBB Elite Pro Bans Russian and Belarusian Athletes From International Competitions

Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials have been barred from participating in IFBB Elite Pro events until further notice.

On Mar. 8, 2022, the IFBB Elite Pro Executive Body announced its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian bodybuilders and officials from all of its upcoming events. The decision is based on International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board’s Feb. 28, 2022 recommendation that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials be prevented from competing in international sports events due to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine via the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Considering the dramatic situation that is hitting and isolating Ukraine, according to the IOC’s strong recommendations, and as well in order to preserve the integrity of IFBB activities and the safety of all the participants, the IFBB Executive Committee has decided that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials will not be allowed to participate in the IFBB international competitions.

This resolution is to be reviewed based on how the situation in Ukraine evolves and any new recommendation from the IOC and International Sport Authorities.


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Russia began its ongoing invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The attack has caused hundreds of civilian casualties and triggered a refugee crisis affecting millions of Ukrainians. Many international companies and organizations have stopped their Russian operations after President Putin authorized the military escalation. The IFBB Elite Pro is not the only sports governing body that has sprung into action on the back of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

With the strong hope that this tragedy ends immediately, without creating further pain and human loss.

On March 1, 2022, CrossFit HQ released a statement unequivocally condemning the Russian military’s action in Ukraine. The statement said that CrossFit will “not recognize the governments of Russia or Belarus throughout the [2022] season, and we will remove Russian and Belarusian flags and names from the profiles of individual and team competitors.”

Additionally, on March 3, 2022, the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) Executive Board issued a statement declaring its “decision to suspend the participation of all athletes, team officials and technical officials from Russia and Belarus from any international or continental weightlifting event until further notice.”

While Russian athletes are barred due to their country’s aggression towards Ukraine, Belarusians also face sanctions because the Belarusian has shown Russia support. Notably, many Ukrainian athletes have been unable to compete in international sporting events because of the attack on their country — men aged 18 to 60 are barred from fleeing the country to take up arms and defend against the Russian military.

2020 World’s Strongest Man champion Oleksii Novikov has been actively raising funds through social media for Ukrainian Soldiers fighting against the invasion. Before entering the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic held on March 4-5, 2022, Novikov made it known that he would donate any winnings earned from the contest toward helping Ukrainian civilians acquire body armor. Novikov placed second and won $25,000. However, during the award ceremony, Arnold Schwarzenegger increased Novikov’s prize purse to equal first place — $80,000.

IFBB Elite Pro Background

IFBB Elite Pro (not to be confused with IFBB Pro League and the National Physique Committee) is a bodybuilding and fitness federation that organizes pro bodybuilding contests worldwide. The IFBB Pro League and IFBB Elite Pro were one league but parted ways in 2017. The IFBB Elite Pro league is affiliated with 190 national federations and recognized by over 90 Olympic committees.

Featured image: @ifbbelitepro_official on Instagram