The term "natural" has undergone multiple revisions in the last few years. New and high tech bodybuilding supplements have blurred the distinction between legal supplementation and steroids. The addition of various pro-hormonal stacks and related supplements to the bodybuilder's arsenal has caused many to conclude that natural bodybuilding no longer exists. One could ask also,
Is it natural to consume 5 grams of Creatine-Monohydrate or 10 grams of L-Glutamine in a single serving?
Is it natural to use Taraxatone to increase muscular definition and then apply 5 coats of Pro-Tan prior to competition?
Does pre-digested ion exchange whey protein exist naturally?
The obvious answer to these questions is NO!
On the other hand, while it is possible to achieve an impressive and healthy physique without supplementation you need to be aware that the proper use and combination of legal supplements will increase the speed of your physical transformation and that your competitor (should you decide to compete) is likely using them to his or her advantage.
So how do we resolve this conflict.
Does Natural Bodybuilding truly exist?
For the competitive bodybuilder the answer lies within the rules of the sanctioning organization that he or she competes in. ALWAYS CHECK THE BANNED SUBSTANCES LIST FOR THE COMPETITION AND OR SANCTIONING BODY THAT YOU ARE COMPETING IN! If you meet the requirements of the sanctioning body (recognized group or authority that sanctions and validates competitions) then you can consider yourself to be "natural". On the other hand, many events are not drug tested at all. If you know in advance that you are competing in a non-tested event and then loose to someone that you believe to be an enhanced athlete, you have no right to complain. You chose to compete under those conditions.
A natural bodybuilder must understand and respect their own genetic limitations. It is important that our physique goals be reasonable and obtainable. If your goal is to eventually look like an Olympia contender, than you need to find a black market pharmacist and start looking over your shoulder. I have spoken with many nationally ranked competitors who were sadly asking the question, "How many more drugs do I have to take". Some were frightened, they see a very dim light at the end of the tunnel and they know where it is leading them. Therefore, as a natural trainer, you must respect your genetics, you must respect your limitations and you must respect your long term health. Your training, nutrition, supplementation and recovery program must reflect your goals. If you're going to call yourself a bodybuilder, then train like one and educate yourself. Anything less and your just a person who works out.
You should be aware however that valid and accurate drug screening is expensive and that cheaters occasionally go undetected. This is a sad fact about our sport because natural athletes need and deserve a level playing field. Once caught however, a failed drug test is usually sufficient to ban the competitor for life. For the purpose of attempting to define the term however, suffice to say that the term "natural" implies that the athlete has not engaged in the use of performance enhancing drugs or substances banned by the sanctioning organization of a competitive event.
While this topic is controversial in some circles, it is important that natural athletes not try to assume a moral superiority over our enhanced brothers. Our sport has yet to receive full recognition by the public and quarreling amongst ourselves will not help our cause. The important thing is that you remain true to yourselves as athletes, and promote our sport, not only in word, but in deed.