I haven't competed in the Team Universe. As the story of the show goes, the NPC needed a "tested" show so that they could take the winners to compete outside of the country, possibly securing the acknowledgement of the powers that be for the Olympics (Ben Weider had a real thing for getting bodybuilding into the Olympics and the obvious drug issue was the constant issue always given as to why it would never happen).
The problem with that was quickly seen at an early 1980's Olympia when the Weiders decided to drug test. Haney still won, but everyone came in much much smaller and not in the expected condition. I forget which year it was, but you won't find many photos from it. Anyway, long story short, the Team Universe's PED requirement is that you be a full year drug free. How well that's truly enforced if at all is open to debate.
You will no doubt find plenty of great physiques on the Team-U stage, and maybe NPC competitors regard them as being 'clean', but if you ask any tested federation athlete (WNBF, INBF, IFPA, USBF, OCB, NGA,...) you can't ignore years of assistance building a foundation simply because an individual doesn't rely on PEDs during a prep.
I kept in touch with a really great bodybuilder I competed against back in '09 in a natural federation. I kept competing year after year as a Middleweight (except for one show where I 'accidentally' came in as a light-heavy) while he took a few years off. About a year or so ago I ran into him in Jersey. He was now solely competing in the Team Universe.
Let me tell you, no way in hell was this guy still making Middleweight in any honest drug tested federation. I certainly don't hold it against him as anything negative, people make their own decisions, simple as that, but you can see what happened here without my really spelling it out.
@Bauber: I had never heard of Ron Nurse, but upon checking a few Google Images, as an obviously older athlete I gotta give the man props. Assuming this is the guy you're referring to?
@BrownDisaster: There's no requirement to adding that, it just seems to have become the standard thing to do. When you earn something that means something to you it's nice to be associated with it. I always just picture it like putting your college degrees or titles after your name.
@Mr FreshNuts: There's really not much money in the sport, on the tested, or even the untested side unless you're seriously one of the very very top guys plus possessing a good amount of marketability. Heck, you've got guys like Cordova, and Whitacre, undoubtedly two of the top natural pros of all time IMO, and they both work day jobs to pay the bills. Heck, Cordova didn't compete for a while citing that he loses money when he has to dedicate time getting ready for a contest. This is despite his being the face on almost every as for one of the largest (but arguably lowest quality -lol) supplement brands out there.
If you ask me, all a natural competitor can ask for is anything that allows them to continue pursuing their love. Usually it's free supplements, apparel, even write ups and articles that stir up publicity that can lead to new clients. Since I've been in the sport, I've received all of these perks.
Heck, I had one company that offered to fly me to the Olympia to work their booth because people would know who I am, and I'm quite knowledgeable on nutrition and supplements and could talk up their product to potential customers. The problem was that I didn't use their stuff, and I like to think that the small bit of a following I seem to have is based upon my honesty.