John Meadows looks back at the sexual assault accusations against Shawn Rhoden and if it was fair to ban him from bodybuilding.
Last year, shocking news broke about Shawn Rhoden after a woman claimed he had sexually assaulted her. This created a firestorm around the industry as Rhoden is not only a legendary competitor, he was also the Olympia champion at the time. Rhoden pleaded not guilty and as far as we know he is still locked up in court. This didn’t stop the leagues from taking quick action as the Olympia announced he would no longer be allowed to defend his title. Shortly after, Rhoden’s pro card was revoked making it impossible for him to compete. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, John Meadows shares his opinion on whether or not it was fair to ban Shawn Rhoden before the court case was decided.
The accusations laid against Shawn Rhoden are very serious ones. If they turn out to be true, he would certainly have to face major repercussions. But as it stands now, there is no final verdict on the accusations against Rhoden. Despite this, there has already been major fallout laid against him. Currently, Shawn Rhoden is not allowed to compete in an IFBB competition including major shows like the Arnold Classic and the Mr. Olympia.
It’s been just short of a year since the accusations and warrent for Shawn Rhoden’s arrest went public. The justice system is certainly slow and the longer it takes to get final clarity on this case, the longer Rhoden sits in limbo with his bodybuilding career. That’s why we asked John Meadows for his take on the entire situation. With the power of nearly a year of hindsight – was it fair to ban Shawn Rhoden for all this time without a verdict?
John Meadows is torn. He understands how serious the accusation is – and also understands that if it ultimately turns out to be true, the IFBB and Olympia brand would never want to have had a competitor appearing in shows the entire time. It is a business at the end of the day. The decisions they make are what’s best for their image and the strength of the brand.
On the other hand, if it turns out to not be true, then Shawn Rhoden has been punished for an entire year for doing nothing wrong at all. Innocent until proven guilty is a powerful phrase that the United States lives by. While the leagues and competition promoters are not the justice system, it would seem unfair to ban him without a final verdict – especially if it turns out to all be false.
Ultimately, John Meadows doesn’t have a final answer. But he does lament the fact that the sport’s image has been hurt by multiple champions who’s names have been dragged through the mud. Prior to Shawn Rhoden, Phil Heath was also a champion that many thought was too cocky. While Meadows doesn’t necessarily believe that personally – it’s the kind of image that can hurt the entire sport of bodybuilding.
While the best physique needs to ultimately win – Meadows wishes we could have another champion with a demeanor like Lee Haney. He not only looked like a champion but acted like one. That, in Meadow’s opinion, is what’s best for the sport.
You can watch John Meadow’s full response to the Shawn Rhoden sexual assault accusations and bodybuilding ban in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!