By Zach Arnold | September 20, 2010
On the back-drop of two (recent) major UFC main-eventers on PPV being in the public eye regarding the issue of alleged drug usage (Shane Carwin & Chael Sonnen), Dave Meltzer says it’s time for UFC to step up and do what the athletic commissions can’t financially do and that’s fund an aggressive drug testing program to try to help clean up Mixed Martial Arts:
“But I mean the whole thing is that the drug testing system that we have in place right now is a complete joke. I mean, that’s a big part of this story is that when you know the date of your test and because of funding issues, you know you’ve got, one of the big issues right here to me is that for this sport UFC should be doing the testing and they should be testing similar to, you know, what a regular sport would do. I mean, like, you know they’re sitting there doing, well we’ll do what boxing does which is leave it to the commissions. But, number one, the number of drug test failures in MMA is significantly bigger than boxing, so it’s a bigger problem. The other issue is that it’s an organizational thing and the organization should be stepping up and not leaving it to these commissions that are financially strapped because California does allow out-of-competition testing, Nevada does allow out-of-competition testing, but given the budget restraints (it) ain’t going to happen for these commissions. They’re going to do (the least), you know, they don’t have the funding to do I’m sure they would like to do. It’s just not happening right now and I think that for this business, UFC should do more than just day-of-event testing because, again, you’ve got guys, a lot of guys, who are doing it cycling, cycling off, getting the benefits of increased training, they may also be getting the detriments of getting off at the wrong time and going into fights kind of lulling which sometimes gives you bad fights because guys didn’t get their cycle properly and they may be at a down point of their actual testosterone kicking in and the drugs that they’re taking to do that, you know, you can’t take too many of them because they may show up on a test. It’s a really weird deal here.”
Regarding what a failed drug test means for Sonnen and for UFC…
“You know, I mean, to me one of the things that UFC needs to do and UFC has the money to do it, the commissions don’t and UFC needs to have a thing where they can test guys at any time they say that, they do it, they have an outside agency doing it, and again, you know, I don’t expect that to happen. You know I mean it’s been talked about with Dana White and his thing is that it’s the commission’s job is to do this but the reality is, again like we’ve said, if you want a clean sport the commissions do not have the funding to keep this a clean sport so what we’re going to do is we’re going to have really unlucky guys or stupid guys fail and, again, it’s just a kind of a weird thing. I mean it’s not a defense of the guy for doing it and again, reputation-wise, you know it’s a real killer for him in the sense that you know he was onto something if he had won the championship in his next match, he would have gotten tremendous endorsements because of how much he could talk. I mean, he could have been really one of the biggest stars and as far as that kind of endorsements, this does effect you. I mean this is why like everyone’s you know, GSP gets so much more money in endorsements than anyone else because he’s got that squeaky-clean character and people are very confident that if they have GSP that they’re going to have a guy who’s not going to make headlines the wrong way and embarrass the company, that’s why other fighters, you know, people are a little bit more leery of as far as like giving them that kind of level of endorsements.”
We know why Dana White leaves it up to “the government” when it comes to drug testing and that’s the issue of liability. If drug testing sucks in Nevada, the heat goes on Keith Kizer and not on Dana White. For the European events, UFC does their own drug testing but you rarely hear much discussed about it in the media. (Except for when Chris Leben tested positive after facing Michael Bisping.)
Lance Pugmire of The LA Times says that the commissioner told him that Sonnen tested positive for a steroid in a pre-fight drug test.
Jordan Breen introduces a second layer to the story…
Possible Sonnen-flu med angle is interesting. People seem willing to forgive if it’s true; serves to reinforce hypocrisy of anti-roid ideas.
People okay with Sonnen possibly using flu meds with banned substances to “get better”. What about injured fighters roiding to heal? Tsk tsk.
Depends on what meds he was taking, if he really was .Could be prednisone or another corticosteroid.
Slippery slope. If you’re sick, use corticosteroids, you aren’t doing it to get stronger? It’s more complicated than acknowledged.
If you’re wondering what Jordan is alluding to, he’s alluding to the fact that Sonnen had been sick with a bad case of the flu about a week before the fight with Anderson Silva in Oakland. Sonnen talked about having the flu in an MMA Fighting interview with Ariel Helwani on the Wednesday before the UFC event. In the interview with Ariel in Concord, California at the UFC-branded gym there, Sonnen talked about spending the week before the fight resting up and trying to break out of whatever he had.
Either he was telling the truth or he was laying the foundation for what was coming down the road.
The third layer to this story is the fact that Sonnen drew national heat for his comments about Lance Armstrong, cancer, and allegations of steroid usage. Remember this?
The fourth layer to this story is that a rematch between Sonnen and Anderson Silva seems unlikely now. If the drug Sonnen was busted for is found in flu medicine, then let the public spectacle begin for an appeals hearing in California. (The irony of this is that a recent UFC PPV top guy had the ultimate spectacle of an appeals in California and that’s James Toney.) If Sonnen can minimize the damage of the failed drug test, perhaps he can get the rematch and Dana White will go with the “I believe him” tact that he used to similarly back Sean Sherk.
Look on the bright side, Dana… Yushin Okami is one win away from the title match we’ve all waited to see on Super Bowl weekend.
On the other hand, look at what’s going on in the UFC Middleweight division. Chael Sonnen, Chris Leben, Nate Marquardt, and Vitor Belfort all have issues regarding the taint of PEDs in MMA (or at least allegations levied at them by commissions for it.) These guys are all right at the top of the mix in the UFC Middleweight division to challenge Anderson Silva. What a mess.