Johnnie O. Jackson discusses what it really means to be a natural bodybuilder in a world with misleading supplement companies and unknown banned substances.

While not as popular as major untested leagues such as the IFBB Pro or Elite Pro leagues – natural bodybuilding has been seeing a resurgence, possibly due to the increased fears around athlete health. The leading league in the natural bodybuilding space, the INBA/PNBA, has touted the most rigorous testing to ensure a fair and natural competitive space to great success. But being natural today might be more complicated than in any other time in bodybuilding history. Why? In our latest episode of Hardcore Truth, Johnnie O. Jackson discusses misleading supplement labels and how that may undercut the goals of a natural bodybuilder.

Johnnie O. Jackson is a lover of bodybuilding whether it is natural or untested. So he’s followed and seen interviews with natural bodybuilders to get a better understanding of their world. Jackson notes that most natural bodybuilders like to wear their natural status as a badge of honor. There’s nothing wrong with that, Jackson argues, but he does worry about what it means to be natural in the modern fitness space.

Are misleading supplements hurting natural bodybuilders?

Specifically, Johnnie O. Jackson is worried about the transparency of supplement products and what ingredients are really included. As many may know, the supplement industry has a bit of a grey area in regards to banned substances. It’s a companies responsibility to ensure all ingredients are legal and not banned. But this list is changing literally every year A popular substance for a company can suddenly be banned due to a change in regulations for a certain ingredient.

Most companies comply, but there has been proof that this is not always the case. The recent major headlines involving Blackstone Labs selling products with banned substances is an example of this. Beyond the legality and the massive sentencing that came with this case – there are also millions of customers who consumed the products trusting the brand. Not knowing they were ingesting banned substances.

Take this notion over to natural bodybuilding – and you can see the problem. These athletes are not trying to break the rules but perhaps they are unknowingly due to misleading labels and misleading companies. Johnnie O. Jackson wonders how many natural bodybuilders walk around truly believing to be natural only to unknowingly be ingesting banned substances. Even worse, how many natural bodybuilders end up testing out of a competition due to unknown banned substances in a product?

This issue is larger than just natural bodybuilding. In MMA, there have been a small handful of athletes who later fail drug tests – seemingly due to a banned ingredient that they were unaware was in an over the counter supplement. Some of this is not illegal either. Some supplements that are banned in the MMA might not be banned by the government. If a label is not truly transparent, an athlete may accidentally take a legal substance that is banned in their sport.

For natural bodybuilding, most leagues simply do a lie detector test. These are not very effective, and by Johnie O. Jackson’s logic, could lead to many bodybuilders passing and competing with unknown banned substances in their system. Again – not on purpose but via misleading supplements.

However, the leading natural bodybuilding league, INBA/PNBA, is aware of the limitations of a lie detector test. Which is why they do WADA approved drug testing for every competition to ensure all athletes are natural. While this may prevent an unfair competition – the same misleading supplement issue can still derail honest bodybuilder careers. If an INBA or PNBA bodybuilder was using Blackstone Labs because it contained “no banned substances” – they would later fail out of competition due to the tests discovering it. In the INBA/PNBA, not only are you dropped out of the competition, you are also banned for life.

While Johnnie O. Jackson has a legitimate worry for natural bodybuilders due to the grey area of supplements – this is a fear and issue that many pro natural bodybuilders are familiar with. In fact, many pro natural bodybuilders are very vigilant for this exact reason. They are very detailed on what supplements they put into their system and do vigorous research to ensure their career (and way of life) is not derailed.

It’s a challenge, and one that shows the extreme dedication, focus, and passion of natural bodybuilders. It’s that same focus and dedication that goes into training and dieting across all of professional bodybuilding – regardless of testing status.

Wrap Up

Johnnie O. Jackson brings up a very good point that should be brought into the mainstream discussion more often. But his worry also showcases an extra layer of how dedicated bodybuilders can be depending on their goals. Hopefully this video will help educate aspiring natural bodybuilders from avoiding certain mistakes as they start their journey.

You can watch Johnnie O. Jackson’s full comments on natural bodybuilding and supplements by watching the latest episode of Hardcore Truth above. Make sure to swing by every Thursday for new episodes each week!

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.