Performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) have long been a major problem in the sport of mixed martial arts. They give fighters an unfair advantage that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. They can make you stronger, faster, and even give you the ability to heal more rapidly. PED’s can turn marginal fighters into stars. It can turn journeyman fighters into borderline contenders. It can turn borderline contenders into contenders. It can turn contenders into the next big MMA star.
Don’t believe me? How do you think Alistair Overeem got as far as he did? I have long had the stance of “I don’t really care” when it comes to PED use in other major sports with the exception of football. I mean, who cares if Jose Canseco gave steroids to other players? It made the sport more exciting at a time when it greatly needed it. I do, however, have a huge problem with PED use in any combat sport. MMA is dangerous enough without the use of PED’s. Now, imagine with them.
As I mentioned earlier, PED’s give you extra power, which could translate into a fighter getting badly injured by a fighter that has an unfair advantage. Imagine the liability issues at stake if a fighter is injured by a fighter that was juiced up. Lawsuits are not the biggest problems here though. A fighters could suffer permanent damage if badly injured. I know what you’re thinking; a fighter can be injured in a fight against a fighter who is not on PED’s as well. You’re right about that.
That’s not what I’m debating. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather a fighter get badly injured against a clean fighter, than a fighter who gets the occasional butt shot. I have written several articles about the integrity of MMA being compromised, but I’ve got to tell you; if this PED problem doesn’t get handled properly, we could very well be witnesses to the end of MMA as we know it. It should be the hopes and dreams of fighters, fans, and media members all over, to one day become a legitimate main stream sport. How the hell are we supposed to do that if we continue to turn a blind eye toward the elephant in the room?
Like in the case of all problems, there stands a solution. Children are often punished when they do something wrong, to the point where they wouldn’t think twice about engaging in the type of behavior that got them punished to begin with. If you think that I am implying that MMA organizations should treat their fighters as children, you’re absolutely right. Yes, we have your standard one year suspension if you get caught. But what if a more extreme punishment existed?
I believe that if it is your first offense, you should be suspended for one year, and forfeit your paycheck from your last fight. If you are a two time offender, there should be at least a suspension of two years. If you violate a third time, you should be booted from the sport permanently. Sound too harsh for you? Well, it was meant that way. It is time to make an example out of any fighter who wishes to make a mockery of himself, his opponent, and the sport I love above any other sport.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on this PED problem in MMA. There now stands a relatively new kid on the block. The problem I speak of is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). In plain English, TRT is given to males to delay normal male aging. TRT also increases your muscle mass while decreasing body fat. TRT can make a 42-year-old man feel like a 25-year-old man. There is where the problem begins. There are a ton of gray areas concerning TRT, and I will attempt to shine a brighter light on them.
Let’s use Dan Henderson as an example. Hendo is 42 years old and is a known user of TRT. I realize that Hendo has a legit reason why he uses it, but to be honest, I do not believe even he should be allowed to use it and continue to fight. Let me explain. Shouldn’t Hendo have the testosterone levels of a man his age? Is it not the way nature intended it to be? How is it fair to his opponents if he is using something that clearly gives him an unfair advantage?
TRT use ruins the integrity of a sport that is struggling to gain main stream recognition from those that keep their noses in the air and refuse to acknowledge the sport. This leads me to the one and only Vitor “The Cheater The Phenom” Belfort. A man that up until word came out that he did get an exemption for TRT, would have you believe that he never used it. He told all of us that people were just jealous that he was taking out contenders. Oh, are we jealous now?
Well Vitor, how about you own up to your past PED use, and let everyone know the reason why you require TRT. Since you enjoyed making a fool of us all, and mocking this sport; how about you come clean (no pun intended). I am totally against the use of TRT, but what’s worst is the fact that past PED users now get to use TRT. To make matters worse, Vitor was given an exemption for his UFC on FX fight against Michael Bisping, which took place in Brazil.
What makes this relevant is the fact that Brazil does not have its own athletic commission, which raises the question; who gave the exemption to Vitor and why? Another question would be; would Vitor have been given a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) by any commission here in the United States? Look, I’m not dumb enough to accuse the UFC of turning a blind eye toward the TRT issue, but wouldn’t it have been easier if they were upfront about this situation with Vitor?
Did they hide it from the public in order to save that event in Brazil? I personally am not bothered much by the fact that they didn’t tell us before the fight, but I’m sure that Michael Bisping is, despite what he would have you believe. Did “The Count” not deserve better than he got? Did the better man actually win that fight? If you’re wondering why I am asking more questions than I am answering, the answer is simple. There are more questions at this point than there are answers.
The UFC does themselves a great disservice when they allow things like this to happen. The time has come to punish offenders. The time has come for VADA testing to be the norm. The time has come for everyone involved in the sport to be accountable for either using PED’s or allowing it to continue. If these things do not happen, I fear that the lights will be turned off on a once bright future for this sport.
Watch Dana White discuss PED’s in the video below.