The largest natural bodybuilding federation — the Professional and International Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA/INBA), founded by Denny and Diana Kakos — is implementing changes for the sport. On the June 16, 2023, episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show on the Generation Iron YouTube channel, the Kakos addressed what they’re doing to make bodybuilding 100-percent drug tested. They also discuss the future of the sport, including potential entry into the Olympics. Check it out below:
Mike O’Hearn is often a controversial figure in the sport of bodybuilding. Although he claims to be all-natural (i.e., he has not and does not use steroids), many sources have questioned his natural-or-not status, including a live interview with influencer KENNYKO that devolved into O’Hearn comparing KENNYKO’s physique to O’Hearn’s wife, bodybuilder Mona Muresan, rather than directly answering KENNYKO’s question of “natural or not.” The interview went viral, and O’Hearn subsequently addressed it on an episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show.
While it isn’t a secret that elite bodybuilders in the IFBB are enhanced (i.e., take steroids), there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. Many elite bodybuilders are open about the drugs they use and how they use them — Hunter Labrada stated that steroids “greatly enhance your recovery capabilities.”
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PNBA/INBA’s Intense Drug Testing Protocol
The Kakos discussed how they used to test for anabolic steroids and banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). They experimented with polygraph tests, which took upwards of an hour and a half for each competitor. It often took three days to test an entire athlete roster.
The Kakos strive to shift bodybuilding to become an all-natural sport to even the playing field on stage — as enhanced athletes have an advantage over those who are not. The Kakos used approved labs for 23 years for drug testing in the PNBA/INBA, testing more athletes than the NFL or the UFC. All PNBA/INBA competitors are tested through the drug testing guidelines of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
When an athlete tests positive for steroids, the Kakos issue sanctions and place the athlete in the “Hall of Shame,” a way to chagrin an athlete in the public eye. Those athletes are banned from competing and stripped of any prize money won in PNBA/INBA competition.
The PNBA/INBA has a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance use. Very few medical exceptions are made, and a committee oversees those that are. Even bodybuilders who want to have children and need fertility drugs have to take time off from competing in the PNBA/INBA.
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[Related: Who Is the Strongest Mr. Olympia Winner?]
Mike O’Hearn on Natural Bodybuilding
The Kakos comment on Mike O’Hearn being the “God of natural bodybuilding.” To this day, O’Hearn claims to be and has always been a natural bodybuilder. In his opinion, it’s unrealistic to take PEDs through all of adulthood without consequences, as drugs are typically tapered off once ailments are healed or the intended results of the drugs’ use are achieved.
“You can’t be gassed out of your mind as a teenager or in your early 20s and assume that you get to keep that until you’re almost 60,” O’Hearn said. “It just doesn’t work that way…You can’t take something like [steroids] for 45 years. The body doesn’t work that way. Drugs don’t work that way.”
Natural Bodybuilding Shows
The PNBA/INBA has several prominent bodybuilding shows remaining in 2023. The Natural Universe competition will be held in October in Romania. It is a qualifier for the Natural Olympia, the premier natural bodybuilding stage. The 2023 Natural Olympia will be held in Las Vegas, NV, on Nov. 8-12. 2023, less than one week after the Olympia in Orlando, FL.
Denny Kakos’ main goal is to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport while blending it with a healthy lifestyle. Diana Kakos and O’Hearn share Denny’s sentiments. They want to see natural Masters competitors in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s compete in events without the use of steroids. O’Hearn implores those who want to compete in PNBA/INBA competition to follow their rules.
Featured image: @mikeohearn on Instagram