IFBB votes to allow controversial Priest to return to competition

by Allan Donnelly

June 9, 2008


It’s official — Lee Priest is back in the IFBB, effective immediately.

“Yes, he’s back in the IFBB,” IFBB Professional League Chairman Jim Manion said. “He’s free to enter any contest, he’s free to guest pose. He has to sign his membership card but other than that formality, which I’m sure he will do, he’s officially back.”

Priest had been suspended by the IFBB since 2006, after choosing to compete in another organization, the now defunct Pro Division Inc. Priest had since reapplied for reinstatement. IFBB officials had originally planned to put Priest’s reinstatement up for a vote on Olympia Weekend, but recently decided to expedite that process in order to allow Priest a chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympia. When the decision was put to a vote, the committee voted overwhelmingly in Priest’s favor, as 11 of 16 members voted to allow Priest’s reinstatement.

“I think the timing was right,” Manion said. “I think Lee has been penalized long enough. He’s made a lot of overtures obviously to try to get back in the IFBB. He was probably going to be allowed back in September, so we decided to let him get back involved with the IFBB sooner. I’m sure he can’t wait to jump back on stage and get back into the action.”

Priest had been very outspoken in his decision to leave the IFBB, and, until recently, had been critical of officials for not allowing his reinstatement. However, Priest’s negative behavior has improved greatly in recent months, which led officials to believe the timing was right to allow Priest back in the IFBB.

“I think he made a bad decision [to leave the IFBB] and I think he knows he made a bad decision,” Manion said. “If he does break the rules again this will be his last chance basically. But in my heart I think he regrets it, so I don’t think that will happen again.

“The IFBB does not rely on one bodybuilder. One bodybuilder is not going to make or break the IFBB. Our federation is much too strong for that. Whether that be Lee Priest, who was suspended, or Ronnie Coleman retiring, the IFBB will always be moving forward.”

Now that the path is cleared for Priest’s return to competition, expect to see him on stage at the Atlantic City Pro on September 12-13, where he will attempt to qualify for the 2008 Olympia.