Give a bodybuilder and an IFBB muckety-muck a microphone, then get out of the way. The official press conference of the 2003 Mr. Olympia was packed with news and spews, as the bodybuilding elite gathered to resolve the snarlfest that has been building for months in the sport. Thankfully, no punches were thrown – just saliva.

First the news. Chris Cormier officially pulled out of the Mr. Olympia contest due to illness. The Real Deal has been battling an intestinal flu for more than a week, and decided not to take the stage at the Mr. Olympia on Saturday. “There’s no way I’d be ready for the show,” he told FLEXonline. “If I can’t be competitive, I’m not going to get onstage.” Cormier expects to compete at the GNC Show of Strength contest in two weeks, however,

After Cormier’s dramatic exit, mighty egos collided as Shawn Ray, Craig Titus and IFFB Pro Division Chairman Wayne DeMilia engaged in gripe de trois concerning controversies surrounding Ray’s attempt to qualify for the position of IFBB athletes’ representative. To mercifully make a long story short, the contentious debate ended peacefully, as Ray was acknowledged to have earned enough athlete signatures to assume the position. Ray planned to attend an IFBB meeting this afternoon to be officially designated as rep.

Also, Lee Priest provided DeMilia with a written request asking that all competitors in the Mr. Olympia be rewarded with prize money, as opposed to only places 1-12 qualifying for a purse. DeMilia satisfied Priest’s wishes by announcing that a previous agreement had been reached with Kerry Kayes of Dorian Yates Approved to offer one thousand dollars each to competitors finishing beyond 12th place, with the IFBB matching that amount to guarantee that no athlete would leave the contest without earning at least two grand. Good news, indeed.

After the egos had landed, veteran superstar Vickie Gates announced that the 2003 Ms. Olympia would be her final contest. Gates, one of the greatest female bodybuilders in history, retires from the sport as one of the most gracious, classy and successful athletes to ever compete in the IFBB. Gates expressed a desire to stay involved in the sport, either as a judge or athletes’ rep.

After the press conference, the prejudging rounds of the Fitness Olympia, Figure Olympia and Ms Olympia were held. Check the links below for a glimpse of the action, including some of the highlights from the press conference.

Press Conference
Pre-Event Press Conference Photo Gallery

Figure Olympia Prejudging
Figure Olympia Prejudging Photo Gallery

Fitness Olympia Prejudging
Fitness Olympia Prejudging Photo Gallery

Ms. Olympia Prejudging
Ms. Olympia Prejudging Photo Gallery