In natural contests bodybuilders are routinely tested for illegal substances and are banned for any violations from future contests. Testing can be done on urine samples, but in many cases a less expensive polygraph (lie detector) test is performed instead. What qualifies as an "illegal" substance, in the sense that it is prohibited by regulatory bodies, varies between natural federations, and does not necessarily include only substances that are illegal under the laws of the relevant jurisdiction. Illegal Anabolic steroids, Prohormone and Diuretics, under widespread use by professional bodybuilders, are generally banned by natural organizations. Natural bodybuilding organizations include NANBF (North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation), and the NPA (Natural Physique Association). Natural bodybuilders assert that their method is more focused on competition and a healthier lifestyle than other forms of bodybuilding.
The first U.S. Women's National Physique Championship, promoted by Henry McGhee and held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is generally regarded as the first true female bodybuilding contest - that is, the first contest where the entrants were judged solely on muscularity. In 1980 the first Ms. Olympia(initially known as the "Miss" Olympia), the most prestigious contest for professionals, was held. The first winner was Rachel McLish who had also won the NPC's USA Championship earlier in the year. The contest was a major turning point for the sport of women's bodybuilding. McLish inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. In 1985, a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. This film documented the preparation of several women for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. Competitors prominently featured in the film were Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Carla Dunlap, Bev Francis, and Rachel McLish. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter, though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have gained in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. Rachel McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them.