By Zach Arnold | July 23, 2007
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Ikuhisa Minowa won his fight today at a show dedicated to his 10th anniversary in the fight game. The show was at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, drawing 1,078 paid. The headline coming out of the show is that Minowaman’s dream fight is to face Masakatsu Funaki. A New Year’s Eve battle coming?
Sean Sherk has hired doping attorney Howard Jacobs for his appeal with the California State Athletic Commission. If you recognize the name Howard Jacobs, the reason is likely because he was hired by Pawel Nastula when Nastula filed an appeal for his failed drug test with the NSAC. Jacobs and Nastula (who I quoted in the latest CBS Sportsline article) stated that Nastula did not dope, despite an alleged provision in his contract with PRIDE that allowed for doping to occur.
Speaking of California, I was able to get the data from the CSAC in regards to drug suspensions in Q1 2007 (January 1st ~ March 30th). Here’s the quick breakdown in data – 7 boxing, 8 MMA, 15 total suspensions. 13 were for marijuana, 2 were for hydrocodone. Full steroid testing was not implemented until Q2 of 2007 in the state. In Q2 of CSAC drug testing, there were 17 failures for ‘drugs of abuse’. In other words, the CSAC is regularly catching fighters on ‘drugs of abuse’ at a pretty consistent rate of 15 or higher. With the steroid testing added, the numbers are jumping up. So, let’s do the math – 23 MMA suspensions in all of 2006 in California, 8 in Q1 2007, and 20 or 21 in MMA in Q2 2007. Well over a benchmark of 50, which would average out to a little over 3 suspensions a month in California of MMA fighters.
The topic de jour on Any Given Saturday (the radio show hosted by Luke Thomas was the steroids mess in MMA. Audio of show here. One suggestion I have for Luke if he wants to attract more callers is to set up an 800 or 888 conf. call line (you can get one for a limited time block online for free) and hook it up to the 646 number of BlogTalkRadio. That way, more people can call in because it will be for free. Show e-mail here.
In response to a question/observation Luke made about why fighters take performance-enhancers, I can only state from personal experience in talking with several fighters that the prevailing attitude that exists is pretty libertarian in nature.
In summary from the fighters I talked with off-the-record, if a fighter wants to take a substance, fine, but that won’t determine the ultimate outcome of a fight. If you are a fighter and you know you’re better than your opponent, then the issue of performance-enhancing drugs isn’t a big enough factor to change the outcome of the fight. In other words, the playing field is what it is and you have to deal with it.
Now, I disagree with that attitude. A lot of that disagreement is not so much about moral integrity of sports (I come from a professional wrestling background). However, it’s more or less concern about the health of the fighters and whether or not they are going to drop dead at an early age like so many wrestlers have. You can only cram so many supplements and drugs into your body before your body eventually breaks down.
There will be supporters of fighters or critics of the MMA media who shout about how angry they are because anti-drug columnists are not taking a ‘nuanced’ approach to the story. I don’t see how taking the position I have taken is ‘political’ or ‘populist’ in nature. Is it really selfish of me to want to care about the health of friends in the business? Is it selfish of me to not want to see some of them drop dead before the age of 50 like some of my friends in professional wrestling have? I don’t want to say that professional wrestling fans understand the steroids issue better than their MMA counterparts, but I will say that I think wrestling fans have always been ahead of the curve compared to other sports fans on the issue of drugs because we’ve seen what can happen to wrestlers when you have a massive, outlaw drug culture. Depending on your point of view, you can thank or not thank promoters like Vince McMahon for that.
At the 27:30 mark of his show, Luke starts answering a question from fellow blogger Nate about whether or not Steve Sievert, Zach Arnold, and Kevin Iole are keyboard warriors. First off, I don’t know how anyone could read the Sportsline article and accuse me of trying to incite a riot. If anything, the Sportsline article on Friday had all the heat sucked out of it online when the Josh Gross/Dana White flame war broke out. Furthermore, it wasn’t until three days after the article was published that people online are even talking about the major substantive points raised in the piece. Second, I never called a fighter a coward or used any sort of incendiary language whatsoever. I stuck to the facts and, in conjunction with Tomer Chen and Denny Burkholder, did the proper leg work. I learned a lot about MMA’s drug culture when I wrote the article. It wasn’t set out to be a pure opinion piece.
Which makes Luke’s ranting and raving against me on his radio show to be so bizarre and out-of-character. I’m not sure if he read the article or not. I would hope so. I would hope that he would realize that I’ve been covering MMA and wrestling for a long time, well since the early 90s. Accusing me of calling fighters ‘cowards’ when I didn’t do such a thing is not true, misinformed, and pretty slanderous.
I thought it was really classless on Luke’s part to lump in Josh Gross, myself, Steve Sievert, and Kevin Iole together. Each column by each writer had a different message and different talking points. To lump the writers together and make the slanderous statement twice that we all called fighters ‘cowards’ for taking drugs is irresponsible. Furthermore, this “you’re not a professional athlete” garbage that he was spewing against the writers who wrote MMA drug articles is the same kind of bull%&^% that a pro-wrestler spews every time a writer criticizes one of their matches. “You’ve never been in the ring before!” or “You’ve never taken a bump in your life!”
What disappoints me personally is that if people truly believed that the message coming out of the CBS Sportsline article is that I’m labeling fighters as horrible people on a personal level, that’s the wrong message. I wrote an article based on the actions of fighters and the facts at hand. Everything in the piece was factually scrutinized and accurate. Denny Burkholder did a tremendous job in interviewing several people for quotes. Everything was also on-the-record. I refused from the on-set to quote anonymous sources or to write off-the-record material.
By the way, Luke, I’ve never had a problem ever meeting a writing deadline in my life. Just thought that you should know that. Oh, and one other thing – I did not receive financial payment for the Sportsline article.
Using Luke’s logic, I shouldn’t have been angry or disgusted about the PRIDE yakuza scandal or the K-1 corporate tax evasion scandal because, hey, those events didn’t impact my daily life. Why are you spending years writing about those incidents and trying to ‘trump up’ a scandal? Nothing to see here, look away…
One other item… Luke made a strange analogy on his radio show, comparing the steroid controversy in MMA to illegal immigration. He repeated a joke that a comedian said about how pathetic you have to be if your job security is threatened by a rag-tag person who just crossed the border to get to the States with no possessions. I have no idea what point he was trying to make with the analogy. Too bad he didn’t bring up a tangential point about the border, with that point being how easy it is to get horse steroids down in Tijuana if athletes want them and cross back into the States with relatively little scrutiny.
The most ironic thing about Luke’s hour-long diatribe against the ‘MMA media’ is that he accuses the MMA media of sensationalism and (fake) outrage, all while slandering me (accusing me of calling fighters cowards when I did not) and getting emotional about what writers have written about. This meme of “the MMA media is getting emotional about steroids” needs to be shot down quickly. It’s also bush-league to trash Steve Sievert, who happened to be the individual that exposed the fact that UFC did not have drug testing at their UFC 69 and UFC 70 events. I’m embarrassed by the total closing-of-ranks that I’m seeing in certain MMA blogging circles because it’s exactly the same kind of mentality that I see on pro-wrestling sites & message boards when it comes to the drug culture in the respective industries.
Onto today’s headlines.
- Dave Doyle: Five rounds – steroids fallout and more
- Mark Madden: Let ‘em die
- Jake Rossen: So, about those steroids…
- Sam Caplan: 5 Oz. of Pain Feature – The UFC on ESPN
- UFC Mania: UFC 77 – Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher
- 411 Mania: The Steroids Epidemic!
- The Terra Haute Tribune-Star (IN): Shane Meehan has tall MMA test against Fort Wayne native Justin Wade
- The Prince George Citizen (Canada): Adriano Bernardo has to go through Tim Hague to be King of the Cage
- The North Platte Bulletin (NE): Controversial deputy Kelly Wiseman resigns (Wiseman has an MMA gym and is a promoter)
- NBC Sports (Kenny Florian): History lessons
- China Combat: Art of War 7 on July 28th
- MMA on Tap: Shawn Tompkins Responds to Stéphane Dubé