Rich Gaspari talks about his past experience as a bodybuilding judge and admits there is an unspoken favoritism.

While there are specific guidelines and rules in competitive bodybuilding – at the end of the day it is a subjective sport. Athletes are scored based off of a judges’ evaluation of the physiques. It’s not based off of clear cut goals like in many other sports. Due to this, there have been a subgroup of fans and athletes who claim there are politics in competitive bodybuilding. That something more than pure physique and aesthetic is considered when the judges make their final decisions. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Rich Gaspari admits that while there are no deep conspiracy politics afoot in bodybuilding, there is certainly unspoken favoritism by the judges.

Whenever there is a major bodybuilding competition like the Arnold Classic or the Mr. Olympia – there is almost an immediate backlash from a subgroup of fans. People who watched the live stream and think that the judges made the wrong call. That perhaps they purposefully scored down an athlete due to “politics.” This happens quite often in bodybuilding because it’s a sport scored by judges. It’s unlike many other sports that have clear cut points and winners. For example, football has clear touchdowns and a final score between two teams. Races have clear winners when a person crosses the finish line first.

While there are guidelines in place that the judges follow upon scoring bodybuilders – there is still a level of subjective opinion in how the guidelines are interpreted by each judge. This is why there are multiple judges per competition and not just one. To balance out slight differences in taste between each individual judge and find an ultimate fair winner.

This still leaves a grey area between the fans and the judges. We can’t know 100% what is going through a judges head. Sometimes this leads to fans speculating that the leagues have an agenda. That athletes need to “pay dues” before they are given a fair chance on stage.

A classic shot of Rich Gaspari in his competitive prime.

When we spoke with Rich Gaspari, we asked him about his experience as a judge. Gaspari had worked as a judge for over five years – if there were any secret politics going on behind the scenes he would know.

“I was never told who I should vote for.” Gaspari states in our interview. He claims there was never a secret agenda distributed among the judges. He was always allowed to vote for who he personally thought best fit the criteria. But he does admit that there was subconscious favoritism amongst the judges. This was less of a conspired plan – and more that humans will always have their judgement clouded by various factors. This might not be a conscious decision – but Gaspari believes that certain athletes were favored – especially the better known they were.

Rich Gaspari continues:

“So when a newcomer comes in, a lot of times it’s hard for a judge to say ‘Ok, this is the [new competitor] I have to look at…. This guy looks really good… but it has to be this guy [referring to a better known favorite]. I don’t want to make a mistake so I have to look at this guy.'”

Rich Gaspari also covers a wide variety of other topics in our latest interview segment including what he thinks is the biggest problem in bodybuilding today and his thoughts on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call for drug testing in pro bodybuilding.

You can check out Rich Gaspari’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

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