When I sat down to write this article the plan was to express my disappointment with the performance (inside the Octagon) of both Nick Diaz and, in particular, Anderson Silva at UFC 183. However, it was the subsequent news that both Anderson and Nick failed pre fight drug tests that has disappointed me more.
Diaz and his apparent marijuana problem is only a side issue to this whole story, after all this is now the 3rd time he’s been popped for the same offence, but the MMA community was stunned to the core to learn that Anderson, arguably the greatest MMA fighter and UFC champion of our generation, tested positive for 2 separate PEDs. The Spider is disputing the results and has claimed there must have been either accidental contamination, or some sort of malpractice at the lab. Such a screw up at the lab is of course possible, but highly improbable. Anderson has never tested positive for any illegal substances before in his long UFC career, but he has never had such a horrific injury before so the temptation to use PEDs to aid his recovery may have been too much to ignore. But that’s just my opinion.
Looking back to the actual fight, this doping issue may have played a part in what was essentially a lacklustre and uncharacteristic performance by Anderson. Like most of you, I spent every second of every round eagerly awaiting the moment Silva would finish the fight in spectacular style with another of his ferociously beautiful attacks. Instead we had to endure round after round of tentative bullshit with only the odd moment or two whereby the former champ went on the offensive. In the end, the much hyped ‘super fight’ was a total damp squib. Anderson’s legacy as the GOAT has been diminished.
But where does this latest PED scandal leave MMA? The list of athletes that have failed doping tests is getting longer and longer and now includes some of the greatest names to have graced the sport. Welterweight contender Hector Lombard is the latest name to be added to the list having tested positive for the anabolic steroid ‘desoxymethyltestosterone’ after his fight with Josh Burkman.
Former Welterweight champion Georges St Pierre commented during a recent interview on The MMA Hour:
“I knew [PED use] was a big problem. I knew for a long time, and it was bothering me and bothering me more and more”. He went on to say, “I’m not surprised so many guys have gotten busted. There are going to be other names coming up. If they keep doing the right testing, there are going to be other guys coming up positive. I believe this is the tip of the iceberg. A lot of fighters are going to be caught.”
Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey echoed these sentiments during an interview with Yahoo Sports saying:
“People need to realize that it [PEDs] is a weapon, and they’re bringing a weapon into the cage, they’re making our sport unsafe. The day that a person dies in that Octagon and the person who killed them tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, we’re going to have our first homicide case. It’s going to destroy the whole sport”.
Ronda has hit the nail on the head, the alarming frequency that MMA athletes are testing positive for banned substances is both unacceptable and down right dangerous. Our great sport can’t continue to be tarnished in such fashion if it is to remain credible. A zero tolerance approach must be enforced, and not just with fighters at the bottom end of the roster e.g Matt Riddle getting sacked for marijuana use but Jon Jones gets a minor slap on the wrist for cocaine. I liked Ronda’s suggestion of a severe penalty for a first offence (1 year suspension plus 100% of the fight purse forfeited), and then cutting any fighter that tests positive a second time.
In my opinion it’s about time a high profile example was made.