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« | Home | »

MMA steroid articles

By Zach Arnold | July 20, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

I want to point out two new articles today that I think you should read online in regards to the steroids problem in Mixed Martial Arts.

First, here is part one of my MMA drug culture article series on CBS Sportsline. (Article here, printable view here).

Please read the Sportsline article first.

Second, there’s an open-letter to Dana White at Sherdog. View that article here.

Colin Cowherd talked on his radio show today about the different levels of steroids abuse in sports (including wrestling). Audio here. Mauro Ranallo is not happy with all the doping going on in MMA. Audio here. Lance Storm is angry about cable news coverage.

For anyone who doesn’t think that there are drug problems outside of UFC in MMA, you’ll find out differently in the Sportsline article. There is an allegation in the Sportsline article from an individual that agreed to go on-the-record that DSE had a doctor who gave a fighter painkillers. Sportsline spent a full week in communication with DSE lawyers and an official to get comment. No comment was ever given.

Go to full-post mode to read my thoughts on the ‘open letter’ from Josh Gross to Dana White.

I have conflicting thoughts on the Josh Gross ‘open letter’ to Dana White. Listen, I’m not going to deny that there’s major heat between both parties and that Dana has reportedly help exacerbate it. No denying that.

However, I found the Gross letter to be completely self-serving and contributing absolutely nothing whatsoever to the discussion of steroids in MMA. My biggest complaint with the open letter is that it basically shifts the entire blame of MMA’s drug culture onto Dana White, as if MMA has the exact same problems as professional wrestling and Vince McMahon have. That’s not the case.

I like the idea of UFC hosting fighter symposiums to help fighters in regards to education on several topics. I like the fact that UFC isn’t afraid to publicly take a stand against their fighters when they fail a drug test. Do I wish that UFC would release the test results of their privately-administered drug tests in areas with no commission oversight? Sure, I would. Absolutely. However, to railroad against Dana White and basically call him out as the man who should responsible for cleaning up the steroid problem in MMA is ridiculous.

The steroid problem affects every single promoter in the MMA industry. Sherdog covered two events promoted by Pro Elite in June in which 5 guys got busted over two shows. Do we suddenly blame Gary Shaw for being a drug pusher because he had knucklehead fighters who got caught cheating?

The issue of cleaning up the drug problem in MMA is extremely difficult to take on. I spent a little over three weeks writing two articles on CBS Sportsline about MMA’s drug culture. While I learned quite a bit on some of the problems MMA is facing, I can safely say that it would take me years, if not decades to truly understand what the industry is currently facing and will be facing in the future. I couldn’t get a single fighter to go publicly on-the-record in the CBS Sportsline articles, let alone find fighters who want to admit that there was a drug problem in the industry. Placing the blame of MMA’s drug culture simply at the foot of a promoter is irresponsible and clueless.

Now, here’s where I think Gross was on the right track but going after the wrong target. They went after the wrong promoters. If he is so upset about the drug culture in MMA, then start going after the promoters who continually promote events in non-commission areas. Primarily, K-1 and PRIDE. In the Sportsline article, I had a powerful person in MMA claim that DSE (the parent company of PRIDE) had doctors who were giving at least one fighter painkillers in order to fight. Could you imagine the firestorm of controversy UFC would be facing if it was found out in the media that they had a personal doctor giving a fighter drugs? It would be insane.

However, I don’t expect Gross to go after anyone other than Dana White. He’s the easy target to attack. It’s an easy out for the MMA media to go after a guy labeled as a carnival barker when the drug culture in this industry is so much more complex to understand, let alone come up with solutions for.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 64 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

64 Responses to “MMA steroid articles”

  1. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Zach,

    I know you’re not Exactly giving Dana a free pass on cleaning up steroids and drugs, but it’s kind of like saying that Vince shouldn’t do anything because no matter what he does with steroids and drugs in WWE, he won’t affect what’s going on in AJPW or TNA, or all the 100s of backyard wrestling events that populate every barn from here to California.

    UFC is the BMOC now. Dana is it’s public face. UFC needs to do something.

  2. jim allcorn says:

    I’m not going to critique whatever small inaccuracies might exist in Gross’s piece or any other for that matter, that attempts to bring to light the severity of the steroids problem in combat sports today. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed by the powers that be ASAP.

    And it’s not only MMA’s integrity & future that’s at risk, but boxing’s as well. Which is having it’s own battles with drug abuse. In a mirror image of the Sherk – Franca debacle in which both athletes were discovered to be steroid abusers was the recent James Toney – Danny Batchelder fight, in which the same thing occured. The onlt reason that it didn’t recieve quite as much attention was because Toney’s status as a heavyweight contender had been deminished by a series of losses & subpar performances over the past year or so & the Batchelder fight was a relatively small fight on FOX Sports rather than an HBO, Showtime or PPV televised bout.

    The fact is, something needs to be done soon & neither sport should continue to just pass the buck onto the government agencies that sanction their products any longer. That’s definitely NOT doing any good.

  3. Body_Shots says:

    I think Zuffa should randomly tests their fighters, but the idea that UFC drug testing is going to instantly stop fighters from using recreactional & performance enhancing drugs is laughable.

    There is no commission, sanctioning body, league or committee on earth that has completely rid drugs from any sport. It’s ridiculous to place that kind of responsibility on the doorstep of ONE promoter.

    Does the UFC need to act? Yes, but so do other promoters, fighters and athletic commissions. Gross turned an issue that should be addressed by the entire sport to an attack piece on Dana White.

  4. jim allcorn says:

    I also feel compelled to respond to Lance Storm’s comments regarding Marc Mero, which I feel are spot on.

    Now, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t add my own two cents into an argument between two of pro wrestler’s workers ( or former workers ) because I’ve never been involved in that particular endeavor on any level other than as an inspector for one WWF show in Niagara Falls back in ‘96 during my stint with the NYSAC. Which, meant basically, wandering around backstage & ringside with nothing to do. LOL

    But, I DO happen to have a bit of a personal background with Marc Mero as we were both fighting as amateur boxers during the same time period ( the early ’80s ) & we’re from the same “neck of the woods”, the Buffalo area. He from Getzville, me from Lockport ( at the time ). In fact, we fought on some of the same cards at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Delaware Ave. back then & he was actually supposed to fight a stablemate & friend of mine in Eddie Murray there. A fight which I ( as well as a WHOLE lot of other people … ) definitely wanted to see happen.

    Unfortunately, even back then, with only some minor accomplishments in the ring, Mero was a “Prima Donna” who’s career was directed by his Dad who wasn’t exactly easy to deal with. And, though he had a bit of a following in the area, this was the amateurs, NOT the pros. So, there was only so much control they could have, which , truth be told, resulted in Mero only having a handful of fights to the best of my knowledge.

    Which made his Dad accepting the Murray fight a huge surprise to everyone involved in the game locally then because Murray was a Buffalo & NYS Golden Gloves champion. A mismatch for Mero for sure, but one which in retrospect, I don’t believe they ever intended to go through with. They just wanted to get his name in the papers again & get the posters out there with the match up top billed for whatever reason IMO.

    But I digress, the point being that Mero has always been someone who’s looked to get himself up on the big stage without actually putting the hard work in. He wanted/wants the acclaim & notoriety without paying his dues. Not that he’s a terrible person, on the few occasions that I dealt with him, he was always decent to me, but the fact is, that even back then it was well known that he enjoyed the spotlight a lot more than the actual competetion & was willing to take short cuts in order to get into it.

    Which was made REALLY apparent, when he showed up a few years later as the WCW headliner ” Johnny B. Badd” & later as “Marvelous” Marc Mero in the WWF claiming to be a boxer of national acclaim in the heavyweight devision with many titles to his credit. Which, was laughable to those of us who actually knew him during his boxing days. Because, though I vaguely recall him competing as a novice in the Empire State Games one year, I don’t believe he won the tourney. And, while boxing, he never went near the heavyweight class. He was a 156 pounder!

    Which, made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was using steroids right from the begining of his pro wrestling career. Probably before he even went to his first wrestling school to learn the fundamentals.
    Which makes his current assertions that he only began using drugs in order to cope with injuries & “keep up” with the rest of the workers a joke. Utter nonsense.

    Something that was graphically illustrated to me back in 1995 when I went to Canastota, NY for the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s annual induction weekend & met up with Mero again for the first time in over a decade. That he was there as a guest because of his supposed “major” boxing accomplishments was a bit galling, in that I knew the truth. And, seeing him get more attention from many locals & fans than REAL fighters of stature like Jose Torres, Carlos Ortiz & many others didn’t sit right with me, but he was billed as a “celebrity guest” rather than as a fighter, so … whatever.

    But, back to seeing him, it was quite surreal in that back when we were fighting on the same cards as young men, he had an inch or two on me in height & was two weight classes bigger at ‘56. I was fighting at ‘39 at the time. But, you know, outside the locker room, in street clothes we were roughly about the same size. But now?!! ( 1995 this being )
    He just dwarfed me.

    I still kept in shape in the gym & such, probably walking around at ‘68 then. But he seemed twice my size.
    OBVIOUSLY the benefits of modern pharmacudical science.

  5. Rollo the Cat says:

    ” As great as sites even like this one are, there isn’t a lot of legit journalism going around.”

    Have you been reading this site the past year or two?

    And yes, Dana is two faced telling fighters to avoid “fan boy” sites because they will turn on them. Like he won’t? He has and will dumped fighters for the most piddling reasons imaginable.

  6. Zack says:

    “How is Dana wrong with what he is saying? The “MMA Media” as a whole is horrible. And a lot of them are just that, fanboys. As great as sites even like this one are, there isn’t a lot of legit journalism going around.”

    If you’ve read any of the “real media’s” stories on MMA since its inception, you’d know that it’s far worse than most of the “MMA Media’s” take. At least the “MMA Media” generally knows the history of the sport and can put things in context.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    They both equally stink in their own ways.

    The fact stands that the UFC runs to regulation, and because of this, it is so unliely for there to ever be a major issue in the media about the UFC and steroids. The media needs the UFC to be a bunch of idiots for the story to stick more then a day. And by public standards, the UFC is doing everything they need to be.

    And the point remains that not only what Gross says is completely inaccurate from top to bottom (it is), but White isn’t even on the radar in terms of this issue. He is actually the only person in the sport who has done something about steroids and testing. An that is getting the athletic commissions on board before they run. And I don’t know of another promoter who has tested their own fighters.

    The UFC is light years ahead of the rest of the sport on this issue, so if anything, give White a prize, don’t point him out with complete inaccuracies just because they hate him.

  8. Zack says:

    What difference does it make if you test your own fighters when the results aren’t released and there are no consequences?

    “He is actually the only person in the sport who has done something about steroids and testing. An that is getting the athletic commissions on board before they run.”

    Dude…UFC 29 under SEG was sanctioned by the NJAC.

  9. Rollo the Cat says:

    How many postive drug tests has the IFL had?

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    The IFL? They run half their events in non sanctioning towns. That would be like asking Pride how many steroid drug tests fighters failed when they ran their events in Japan.

    Plus, the way the IFL is structured, it makes it stupid for a fighter to take steroids. They fight so often that it is near impossible to cycle through the roids properly for the training of a fight.

    And before you think that the IFL is now the format to get around roid use…. The IFL’s schedule is horrible for a fighter. Some guys might be fighting up to 6 or 7 times in one year. That is a lot of abuse for a fighter to take in one year. I’m not sure how much worse that is then steroids.

    “What difference does it make if you test your own fighters when the results aren’t released and there are no consequences?”

    MLB doesn’t release who was tested and when. How is the UFC supposed to be any different? And how do you know if their are consequences or not. Neither you or I really know anything on that matter.

    And when I say that White is the only person doing anything, I mean in today’s sport. How many other promoters do you see hiring the services of a guy like Marc Ratner for the purpose to get the sport regulated in all 50 states? And with that regulation comes drug testing. All the other promoters either just care about the 1 or 2 states that they are around, or don’t try to do anything (like the IFL).

  11. Rollo the Cat says:

    “The IFL? They run half their events in non sanctioning towns. That would be like asking Pride how many steroid drug tests fighters failed when they ran their events in Japan.”

    I didn’t relaize this, but I never paid attention. Have they been on Indian reservations? They did a LA show, a LV show, and now another NJ show. So not all have been unsanctioned and still there have been no positive tests, correct? I think there may be something to this. Maybe they don’t pressure fighters to compete when hurt. I don’t know, but I feel the attitude of the management or owners may be a factor.

  12. white ninja says:

    “I feel the attitude of the management or owners may be a factor”

    bingo. we have a winner

    For all of their lipservice, promoters dont give a shit about the safety of fighters, particularly long term damage that accrues from steroid abuse

    they have an interest for fighters to fight when an event is announced. how the fighters get there; injured, roided etc? You really think Dana White cares? He could give a shit once the tickets and PPVs are sold

    the only thing seperating Dana from the scumbags at PRIDE is that Dana has the ACs to deal with. Japan is perfect example of a de-regulated and corrupt MMA scene is

  13. D. Capitated says:

    I didn’t relaize this, but I never paid attention. Have they been on Indian reservations? They did a LA show, a LV show, and now another NJ show. So not all have been unsanctioned and still there have been no positive tests, correct? I think there may be something to this. Maybe they don’t pressure fighters to compete when hurt. I don’t know, but I feel the attitude of the management or owners may be a factor.

    The claim that they’re doing all unsanctioned style events is a bit absurd. They’ve played mostly major venues, with NJ, California, and Nevada being together far exceeding any other combination of venues that they’ve used. Even Mohegan Sun, whom they’ve run twice, has been very strict about MMA. Ask the UFC about that. They don’t pressure fighters to fight when hurt because its team based, not fighter based, and thus they can just call a replacement with no one being the worse for wear (other than the hurt fighter’s pocketbook).

  14. Mr. Phelps says:

    45… I love reading your posts. You always reason your arguments and defend your positions well. Zack, 45 has become one of my favorite reasons to visit the site.
    And kudos, Zack, on your awesome coverage of the issue on sportsline. I would hope even Dana White would have to make fightopinion the exception in his collection of “fanboy” websites. Now, if you could just get a dissenting voice on the radio show…
    45? How would 45 sound on the radio?

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