Fools and Money

December 19th, 2004

I get email. I get lots of email. Most of it is spam, of course. Some of it is “You forgot my 2003 8th place finish in the something-or-other Championships.” Much of it is “I think our websites are a good match. I’ve placed a link to your site on my links page, along with a couple thousand other links. Will you list a link to my teeth-whitening or penis-extending site? If not, I’ll remove your site from mine.”

Then today, I get an email offering me to be a distributor for this new and exciting product, endorsed by Ronnie Coleman.

I go to the site, and the product is a set of patches that you place on your skin. Oh, I think, another homeopathic concentration of growth hormone, or something like that. But, no, not even that. From their website:

  • Convenient Non-Transdermal patch; nothing enters the body
  • Constructed from water, Oxygen and amino acids sealed inside a plastic shell

So it’s not a transdermal patch. Its a NON-transdermal patch. Nothing enters the body. You wear two pieces of plastic with water and amino acids inside.

Then they go on to talk about “passively interact with the human body for the purpose of inducing electron flow and thermomagnetic frequency modulation.”

Now I took quite a bit of [physics] in college, and I don’t remember any mention of thermomagnetic frequency modulation. So I googled it. Thermomagnetic is the conversion of heat directly to electricity. The term is usually used regarding superconductors, ceramics at very cold temperatures, -200 degrees and below, where electricity flows without resistance. Frequency Modulation is a method to place information in a signal, by modulating the frequency. You know, like FM radio. No where is the term “thermomagnetic frequency modulation” used anywhere on the web other than with regards to this product. There are no examples of frequency modulation, thermomagnetic or not, in biological systems. I know of no examples of the thermomagnetic conversion of heat to electricity in the human body. (Please let me know of any.)

And how does one passively interact with anything? I think that qualifies as an oxymoron.

As part of their news items, they state the product is once again proven to be non-transdermal! Yeah, well, hard plastic will do that.

If pieces of plastic filled with water, oxygen and amino acids have an effect on the human body, what has my soft contact lenses been doing to me all these years? How much of an effect would a bottle of Gatorade stuck down your pants have?

We are truly an illiterate society.

Palumbo sentenced

December 18th, 2004

On Friday in San Diego Dave Palumbo was sentenced to 5 months in a federal prison, and another five months of house arrest with limited traveling/working privileges. He could have received a maximum penalty of 5 years in custody and/or $250,000 fine.

In October, he pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to unlawfully distribute human growth hormone.

From the October press release:

United States Attorney Carol C. Lamannounced that David Palumbo, bodybuilder and editor-in-chief of Rx Muscle magazine, entered a plea of guilty today in Federal Court in San Diego before United States District Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan to the charge of conspiring to unlawfully distribute human hormone.

In connection with his guilty plea, Palumbo admitted that he obtained counterfeit Serostim from Bill Young in San Diego, which he would then sell to bodybuilders who did not possess a lawful prescription. Palumbo acknowledged in his plea that between July 1, 2002 and August 13, 2002, he received in New York two shipments of 50 boxes each of counterfeit Serostim (a form of human growth hormone) from Young in an Diego. A third shipment of 100 boxes of the counterfeit Serostim sent by Young to the defendant was lost in transit and never delivered.

Palumbo further admitted that he sold 90 boxes of counterfeit Serostim between June 2002 and September 2002 for approximately $63,000 to multiple persons believed by himto be bodybuilders, and who the defendant knew could not provide a valid prescription from a physician that would allow them to receive legitimate Serostim.

Serostim is a prescription drug containing theactive ingredient ?somatropin,? a formof human growth hormone. Serostim is approved by the FDA for use in the United States to treat AIDS wasting.

United States Attorney Carol C. Lam stated, ?With this plea, the last of an organization that counterfeited and distributed this human growth hormone has been brought to justice.?

Daniel Dzwilewski, Special Agent in Charge, San Diego Division of the FBI explained, “This multi-faceted investigation removed a significant criminal element from the community. The illegal distribution of unapproved pharmaceuticals is a felony and those who engage in this type of endeavor will always be held accountable.”

more Roid Madness – Governator Style

December 15th, 2004

Lots of articles in newspapers about steroids. On thing I can’t let go by:

Legislator will try again to pass laws curbing steroid use

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh. [said,] “Governor Schwarzenegger personally stated that he had, in fact, used steroids as a youth. But had he known then what he knows now, he would have steered clear.”

So, the governor considers 43 as being a youth, as that’s how old he was when he did Total Recal and Terminator 2.

And don’t think for a second that if a 16 year old Arnold knew what he knows now, that he would choose not to use steroids, as that would mean that he would choose not to be a bodybuilder, not to be Mr Universer, not to be Mr Olympia.

Don’t know if politicians are all the same, but spokespersons for politicians are.

Milos Sarcev, Dennis James indicted

November 23rd, 2004

Federal steroid indictments name Temecula bodybuilder, two others

A Temecula bodybuilder with ties to BALCO Laboratories has been indicted with two other men by a federal grand jury in Des Moines, Iowa, in an alleged conspiracy to import illegal steroids from Thailand.

Milos Sarcev of Temecula, Admir Kantarevic of Des Moines, and Dennis James, a U.S. citizen reportedly arrested on drug charges last February in Thailand, are accused of conspiring to import a steroid mixture in 2003.

More at San Jose Mercury News and at WOI-TV

Pro Contests

November 22nd, 2004

The 2005 IFBB Pro Schedule is out.

No Show of Strength. No Night of Champions. No Masters Olympia. No Jan Tana.

For the men, 6 contest in North America, 4 in Europe, one in Australia.

For women’s bodybuilding, only four contests are listed: 3 in North America and one in Europe.

Women’s fitness, 6 contests, all in the US.

Women’s figure, 12 contests, all in the US. The funny thing is that many of these women’s figure pro contests are held in conjunction with NPC amateur shows. I attended the prejudging for a few of these contests this year. It seemed to me that there were two very distinct audiences. The audience for the amateur events took a break while the pros were being judged, and the audience for the pros didn’t arrive until just before the women went on stage, and left immediately afterward.

I wonder how they’re able to combine NPC and IFBB events. Did you know that the NPC is considered a public charity? See http://www.irs.gov/charities/page/0,,id=15053,00.html and enter physique for the name and Pittsburgh, PA for the city and state. None of the other major amateur bodybuilding organizations seem to be listed. (Thanks to NubianMuscle at getbig for this info.)

Clearly the IFBB is a money making business. One would think that cross promotion between the organizations would cause problems. The IFBB can promote the NPC all it wants, but one would think there would be limitations on what the NPC can do for the IFBB. The way the NPC website promotes IFBB events should be enough to put their charity status at risk.

NPC Nationals

November 20th, 2004

Chris Cook wins the Men’s. Gina Davis wins the Women’s. Complete results at Musclememory.

What’s In A Name?

November 12th, 2004

This weekend is the WPF Universe contest in Philadelphia. According to their press release, which was posted to a mailing list I belong to, “the original Mr Universe is returning to Philadelphia after 57 years”. Something similar is posted to their website. (They also state that Arnold has been invited to present the awards. As he was in Tokyo today on a state visit, he must be flying directly to Philadelphia to get there in time.)

“How is this the original Mr Universe returning to Philadelphia?” you may ask. I certainly did. It works something like this. The first Mr Universe was in Philadelphia as part of the World Amateur Championships. The AAU was the host, although the contest was officially sanctioned by the world amateur weightlifting organization of the time.

Then in 1986, 1987, and 1988, the AAU held three Mr Universe contests. In 1989, the AAU dropped out, but the promoter wanted to continue with the contest, so he formed the WPF and held contests in 1989, 1990 and 1991 . I find no mention in any magazine of any WPF Universe contests from 1991 to present, although the WPF website does list one for 2003. (I’d love to add the 2003 contest to my database, but they only list last names and first initials, and I need complete names. I did email them, but never heard back from them.)

So we have first Mr Universe in 1947 —> AAU 1986, 1987, 1988 –> WPF 1989, 1990, 1991 —> 2004

So the AAU was involved with the first Mr Universe. Then 39 years later, the AAU held three contests in a row. Then the same promoter held three more under the name WPF. Therefore, according to the WPF, the Real and Original “Mr Universe” is returning to Philadelphia!

Now it doesn’t matter that in 1948 the second Mr Universe was held in London in conjunction with the Olympics. The contest was again sanctioned by the international weightlifting governing body of the time and run by the people who became NABBA. Then every year from 1950 to the present NABBA has held the Mr Universe also in the UK. (There is a guy in Australia who decided to take his marbles and go home. He formed NABBA International, and holds a World and Universe contest, but he’s been hosting it with NAC, so that’s how I list it in the database. The alternative would be faux-NABBA.)

Nor does it matter that throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and even in this decade the general consensus is that the NABBA UK event is the “real” Mr Universe. The real Mr Universe for this year took place in October, and Steve Sinton won it.

I count at least nine organizations that have used Universe in their title in one way or another. So this may be a lost cause. However, in my database, I only list the 47 and 48 events and the NABBA events from 1950 to present as “Mr Universe”. None of the others get the “Mr” prefix. Hey, its my database.

Now one would expect that a Universe contest would have world class competitors from throughout the world. However I once attended a Universe contest that not only did they only have one or two people from outside the US, but almost all the contestants came from the local Los Angeles metropolitan area. Then they went and boasted that one of the class winners, this was his very first contest!!! So much for the Universe being a contest for the best of the best, a contest for people who have proven themselves at the regional and national level.

I wish the WPF well. But the name doesn’t make the contest. The name Mr Universe became significant because of Grimek and Reeves and Pearl and Hargitay, Sansone, Yorton, Schwarzenegger, Coe, Zane, Petsas, Dickerson, Lawrence, Enünlü, King and DuFresne, all NABBA winners. Not AAU winners and not WPF winners.

But the WPF is not the only organization trying to hook their wagon onto a famous name of the past.

In October, the WBFA held their second Mr America contest. In this case, at least they seem to have the legal right to call their contest Mr America.

In 1938 and 1939 there were two contests held called Mr America. Then the AAU took it over and held it every year through 1999, usually part of the national weightlifting championships. From 1959 to 1977, the Weider organization also held a contest by the name Mr America, but the IFBB was considered an “outlaw organization” and the AAU event was always considered the “real” Mr America. Then in the late 1970s, the IFBB actually promoted a few of the Mr Americas for the AAU, over strong protest by many in the AAU. That only lasted a few years and they went their separate ways. Also the AAU won a civil suit for the rights to the title Mr America. Part of the settlement included that no organization could ban an athlete for entering another organization’s contest. The IFBB via the NPC then called their top amateur event in the USA the Nationals.

The NPC became the dominate force in amateur bodybuilding and the AAU Mr America became less and less significant. Finally in 1999 the AAU washed its hands of bodybuilding all together. In 2003, the WBFA acquired the rights to the title Mr America from the AAU.

Now I have exchanged a few emails with Kelvin Fountano of the WBFA, at least until he got tired of responding. My main question was “Are you sure you want to call your contest ‘Mr America’?” He replied that he “will bring this prestigious title back to its rightful place in the bodybuilding community.”

The problem is that when people look back fondly on the Mr America contest, they’re not looking at the contests from the 1990s, and very seldom at contests from the 1980s. They’re looking back at contests from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and into the 1970s, when the Mr America was a significant part of pop culture. After that, it was dying a slow death.

The Mr America contest did not die because of mismanagement of the AAU. It died because times changed, tastes changed. The reason for the contest no longer was relevant.

The Mr America was not just a physique contest. It was not to determine who was the best built man in America. It was to determine who was the best representation of the American male. The most muscular man in the contest rarely won the overall title. Points were given for appearance, grooming, the ability to speak well, moral character. Points were also awarded for athletic ability outside of bodybuilding.

The Weiders decided to go a different route. They would judge on physique only. It took time, but the fans and athletes decided they liked that better.

The AAU tried to adapt, but once you take away the interview and the athletic points, it becomes just another contest. The NPC Nationals is the top amateur contest in the USA today. But no one looks back fondly at past winners the way they look back at Mr America winners from the 1970s and before.

Without the rules of the old Mr America contest, it is just another contest. (This new Mr America contest isn’t using the old rules. They’re even allowing winners to come back and defend their title, which the AAU Mr A did not allow.)

But the rules from the hey-day of the Mr America contest are from a different era. The Mr America contest died because the world changed. Perhaps we’re more jaded. We’re not interested in who’s the best representation of an American male. We’re just interested in who’s the biggest. Perhaps it’s difficult to talk about moral character when you need to commit multiple felonies to get the drugs required to compete at the national level (even in drug tested contests). Then again, Miss America and Miss USA contests aren’t doing too well, either. The world changes.

The WBFA wants to return the Mr America title to its previous glory. But being a national level contest isn’t what made it glorious. And claiming a lineage to the AAU Mr America won’t make it glorious. Nor will being the best built bodybuilder outside the NPC. I do wish them well. I just wish they’d use a different name. The Mr America title belongs to the past.

IFBB World Amateur Championships

November 9th, 2004

The IFBB Men’s World Amateur Championships were held this weekend in Russia. Complete results at Musclememory. Note they’re not official until the drug tests come back. The Women’s Championships had occurred a few months ago. The Men’s Junior and Masters had also occurred the first week in October, but are included with the men’s results.

Only one American in this weekend’s contest: Victor Roman of Puerto Rico placed 15th in the Bantamweight class.

Lots of photos available at popow.ru. Look for 08.11.04, 06.11.04, and 05.11.04 on the lower left side. There are even some video clips there.

This contest is drug tested. Its amazing what “natural” looks like today. (In 2002, 14 of the top 18 (top three in each of 6 classes) failed the drug test. In 2003 it was 13 of the top 35 (top 5 in each of 7 classes).)

Also be sure to read my previous blog entery on whether this is the 58th or 42nd World Amateur Championships.

IFBB European Grand Prix weekend

November 7th, 2004

Three IFBB Pro contests this weekend. Ronnie Coleman sweeps the set.

Grand Prix Russia on Friday
Grand Prix Holland on Saturday
Grand Prix England on Sunday

Flex Online is reporting that Mustafa Mohammad was hospitalized in Amsterdam for dehydration. He is expected to be released today or tomorrow.

Olympia

October 30th, 2004

Ronnie Colman wins. Let’s see…that makes 3 winners in 20 years…10 winners in 40 years. Iris Kyle wins the women physique, Davana Medina wins the figure.

Complete results for the men and women at MuscleMemory.