What is natural bodybuilding?

Natural bodybuilding is a field of bodybuidling which promotes abstinence from performance enhancing drugs.  A performance enhancing drug is usually considered to be illegal, unethical or cheating in the sports world.

Drugs which enhance performance are defined as any substance that athletes ingest in order to “heighten their abilities in the performance of their sport” (thefreedictionary.com, 2019)

What are the rules governing performance enhancing substances in natural bodybuilding?

The World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (2019) provides a very extensive list of enhancing drugs that are prohibited in natural bodybuilding. The Federation strictly prohibits drug use and encourages bodybuilders to compare labels against the list before making a purchase. Each athlete in their championships must undergo drug tests in order to participate.

According to the regulations, all members must meet the following testing standards prior to their first competition. They must:

be free of prescription or pharmaceutical hormones on the banned list for 10 years.

test negative for over-the-counter hormones, pro-hormones or banned substances two years. listed or their chemical counterparts, unless otherwise noted.

never use a prescription more frequently or at higher doses than prescribed by their medical doctor.  Members can never use medications for bodybuilding or weight loss purposes.  All prescriptions issued by a physician must be current and the athlete must present a copy to  promoters at all events of the International Bodybuilding Federation/World Natural Bodybuilding Federation.

Which substances are on the banned list of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation?

As of September 2nd 2009, the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation issued a list of banned substances.  The categories and at least four related drugs are presented below:

All Anabolic Steroids including, but not limited to:

Testosterone is strictly prohibited in any form, even if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner. These include creams, gels, patches, pellets, and injections.
Growth Hormones

Pharmaceutical HGH, HCG, and any other related compounds including Insulin-Like Growth Factors such as

Somatomedin C
Pro-Hormones, Precursors and Metabolites, Derivatives, and Related Compounds

The following are banned substances and their ban time frame:

5-Etioallocholen-3b,7b,17b-triol and/or substances similar in structure –  as of January 1, 2019 these substances shall carried a two (2) year ban time frame.

Any hormone, including insulin, (injectable, oral, sublingual or otherwise) used for bodybuilding purposes

Designer and Pro Steroids are Banned and Carry a 10 Year Ban Time-frame

Ergomax LMG

All hormonal precursors and their metabolites and isomers. Athletes must abstain from the following substances for 90 days (3 Months) before competing in the of abstinence prior to competing in championships of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation or its affiliate federations for the first time.

Pro Hormonal Fat Burning Supplements including

6 OXO Through 2019 – New members will be ineligible for competitions for 3 months if they are supplementing with 6 OXO and/or related compounds:

6 OXOandrostenetrione



1,4,6androstatriene3, 17dione

Ephedrine, Ephedra, and Stimulants

Natural bodybuilders cannot use Ephedrine and Ephedra for 3 months before joining the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation for the first time

Athletes are  given a 30 day amnesty before being eligible to compete in any competition of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation for the first time. This is because many bodybuilding products contain DMAA and/or related compounds.

Banned drugs in this category include:

(4 amino-2-Methylpantane citrate)
Psychomotor Stimulants

Stimulants/medications prescribed or non prescribed used for bodybuilding and/or weight loss purposes are banned in certain time frames. Stimulants or medications that produce similar physiological effects even if not expressly listed are prohibited for use in natural bodybuilding.

These include:

Bupropion Hydrochloride

Cannabinoids & CBD’s

These are prohibited for use the day of any INBF/WNBF polygraph examination.
At this time the INBF/WNBF has not moved toward banning cannabis and/or CBD’s in season.

Prescription Diuretics & Masking Agents including, but not limited to:

If they use prescription diuretics for bodybuilding, members are banned from for three months from competitions of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation.

If prescribed for acne, Spironolactone  MAY NOT be used for 14 days prior to any competition of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation.

Drugs in this category include:


What drug tests are carried out by the the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation?

The World Natural Bodybuilding Federation carries out the following drug tests on members in order to determine compliance with natural bodybuilding guidelines:

Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) Ratio

The Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) Ratio analyzes the blood for the presence of exogenous testosterone or illicit elevation of testosterone levels.  T/E ratios in excess of 6/1 are ruled as positive regardless of the cause.

Furthermore, the athlete will fail the test if the T/E ratio exceeds the 6/1 limit.

Urine testing

The urine is tested for the presence of banned substances. Natural bodybuilders are deemed have a Urine Test Failure if the drug is present.

Polygraph examination

Commonly referred to as the lie detector test, a polygraph,  is a device or procedure that measures and records  blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person is asked and answers a series of questions (wikipedia, 2019).

Organizations that govern natural bodybuilding

World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF)

Internationally recognized as a drug free natural bodybuilding federation, the WNBF has conducted 30 years of stringent drug testing.

Member benefits include drug testing integrity worldwide; athlete centered organization; high cash prize payouts to Pro’s  and  participation in organized and competitive events.

United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association

The United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association is an affiliate of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. It was founded in 2011.

The British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF)

A non profit organization, the  British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF)  conducts polygraphs and urine tests on every finalist at every show. They also conduct random tests out of competition in order to maintain compliance.

Drug Free Athletes Coalition (DFAC)

Also a non profit, The Drug Free Athletes Coalition Every athlete finalist also polygraphs finalists and performs urine tests on class winners at every show.  Compliance is also strengthened by out competition random tests.

International Natural Bodybuilding Association

Founded by Wayne McDonald in 1991, the International Natural Bodybuilding Association conducts competitions in bodybuilding, physique; figure, fitness and bikini.

With headquarters in Australia, the  International Natural Bodybuilding Association organizes at least 40 domestic championships in every state and territory of Australia.  The Association strictly adheres to drug testing and compliance standards.

Other natural bodybuilding organizations include

North American Natural Bodybuilding Federations (NANBF)
Organization of Competition Bodies (OCB)
Natural Bodybuilding e Fitness Italia (NBFI)
World Natural BodyBuilding Spain (WNBF)
Escuela Culturismo Natural (ECN)

Last modified: 29th October 2019