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Bodybuilding chief dismisses allegations of sexual exploitation

‘Relaxation assured, this won’t have an effect on our organizations in any respect going ahead’

Jim Manion leads the 2 bodybuilding federations that The Washington Put up investigated for sexual exploitation of feminine contestants. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Put up)

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Jim Manion, the chief of bodybuilding’s high federations, assured promoters who pay charges to host bodybuilding competitions that enterprise would proceed as normal within the aftermath of a Washington Put up investigation into the sexual exploitation of feminine contestants.

Tuesday’s story in The Put up was based mostly on interviews with 20 ladies who detailed their experiences with JM Manion, Jim Manion’s son and the official photographer for the NPC Information On-line web site, together with some who stated JM inspired them to pose nude. Over a 15-year span, JM operated a community of paid soft-core pornography web sites that at one level marketed “over 30,000 pictures” of rivals within the sport, in accordance with archived variations of the web sites.

“Relaxation assured, this won’t have an effect on our organizations in any respect going ahead,” the Manions wrote in an electronic mail despatched to competitors promoters from an NPC account and signed by Jim and his grandson, Tyler Manion, vice chairman of the 2 Pittsburgh-based federations , the beginner Nationwide Physique Committee and the IFBB Professional League. The e-mail, obtained by The Put up, stated the articles have been “unsubstantiated tales from unreliable sources” searching for to discredit the group.

However organizations that sponsor or host occasions with the NPC/IFBB Professional stated they’re taking their very own steps to guard athletes.

Brian Powers, govt director for the Arnold Sports activities Pageant, which incorporates the Arnold Basic, stated his group has a zero-tolerance coverage, and in mild of current stories, “we’re growing enhanced measures to strengthen present security protocols.”

One other official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of that particular person was not licensed to talk on the file stated, “JM Manion won’t be attending our present.”

In an electronic mail to The Put up, the Olympia group, which can maintain its premier annual occasion in December, stated it might tackle “any and all points that would impression the tradition and the integrity of the game we love. We’ll proceed to replace you on these efforts within the weeks to come back.”

Two outstanding promoters who’ve placed on bodybuilding exhibits over a few years for Manion’s organizations spoke out this week about The Put up’s reporting.

L. Brent Jones, who has run exhibits in Kentucky since 2002, despatched a mass electronic mail with the topic line, “Why I resigned from the NPC and the IFBB Professional League,” that he resigned Oct. 17, per week earlier than The Put up printed its investigation, over most of the points coated within the story. “My causes are easy,” he wrote in a mass electronic mail Thursday. “I’m uninterested in the elevated sexualization of the game and the corruption.”

Approached throughout a present exterior of Baltimore on Saturday, promoter Wealthy Siegelman known as the allegations “disturbing” and stated he had spoken to JM, who was scheduled to be the photographer of the occasion, and that they’d agreed that he wouldn’t come.

“These are some critical accusations and allegations, they usually have to be taken significantly,” Siegelman stated.

A Put up assessment of archives of JM’s soft-core pornography websites recognized greater than 200 feminine athletes in images starting from bikini photographs to graphic sexual pictures, together with these of nude ladies collectively in beds, bathtubs and showers.

The Manions’ bodybuilding empire lacks any oversight construction and athletes say there isn’t any formal course of to report misconduct in opposition to high officers, coaches, photographers, promoters or others concerned within the sport, leaving them weak to abuse.

“Think about if Staff USA ladies’s golf determined to function a soft-porn web site that includes its athletes? Folks can be outraged,” stated John Manly, the lawyer who represented greater than 180 ladies in a lawsuit in opposition to USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“It is actually like Playboy determined to supervise a sport whereas on the identical time utilizing athletes for pornography,” added Manly, who gained a $380 million settlement for athletes who have been sexually abused by former Olympic staff physician Larry Nassar.

The Nationwide Group for Girls, the nation’s largest ladies’s advocacy group, known as on prosecutors to open an investigation.

“Carry wrongdoers to courtroom, and make them pay,” stated Christian F. Nunes, the president of NOW. “They aren’t even publicly acknowledging the experiences of those ladies.”

In a press release to The Put up earlier than publication of Tuesday’s story, Manion stated he “addresses all issues raised with the utmost care, concern, and timeliness.”

On Friday, Manion’s lawyer responded to The Put up’s story with a two-page memo titled “Defamatory Articles Involving the IFBB Skilled League, the Nationwide Physique Committee, and Jim Manion.”

The letter states some sources cited in The Put up’s story “possess a transparent animus in opposition to my purchasers as a consequence of many prior disputes between the events and/or the actual fact they’re straight competing or searching for to straight compete in opposition to the NPC and/or IFBB Professional League, ” wrote Brian H. Simmons, a Pittsburgh legal professional with the agency Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Simmons added that his purchasers “emphatically deny any and all wrongdoing.”

Feminine bodybuilders describe widespread sexual exploitation

The Manions’ response is available in stark distinction to how main sports activities organizations take care of allegations of sexual harassment.

“The Manions have had the precise reverse response to all these different sports activities organizations which have been came upon,” stated Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer and a lawyer who runs Champion Girls, a bunch that advocates for women and girls in sports activities.

“I might count on the response can be: ‘Let’s have an investigation and cease this,’ ” she stated. “They will proceed to abuse ladies, they usually have telegraphed that by the dearth of concern they’re exhibiting.”

Manly, the lawyer who represented the gymnasts, stated the ladies have few authorized protections as a result of they don’t seem to be collaborating in a regulated sport entity, like an Olympic sport that falls underneath the Ted Stevens Act. The legislation requires the governing our bodies of beginner Olympic sports activities to report any suspected sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.

Barbara Osborne, professor of sports activities legislation on the College of North Carolina Regulation Faculty, stated that many athletes in skilled American sports activities are staff of the organizations they compete underneath, giving them Title VII protections in opposition to office discrimination based mostly on intercourse, race, coloration, faith and nationwide origin. {Many professional} athletes are unionized, giving them additional rights and protections.

Have a tip on the bodybuilding world? E mail the reporters at builtandbroken@washpost.com.

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