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The magic T’s on/off switch: Vitor Belfort’s golden flip on using testosterone

By Zach Arnold | November 1, 2013

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This article is co-authored by Zach Arnold & writer @teamgDp.

Did Vitor Belfort admit to cheating against Anderson Silva when they fought in February of 2011 in Las Vegas?

Anyone paying attention? Hello? Anyone out there care?

Well, technically, people do care enough to vent on Twitter on social media while they are throwing a testosterone tantrum about Belfort. But that doesn’t stop people buying tickets to go to Belfort’s fights or shell out cash to watch him on PPV. Just the way the UFC likes it.

And, hey, who’s the hottest UFC ratings getter of them all? Fox’s Ageless Male, Chael Sonnen.

In September of 2012, a testosterone (anabolic steroid) exemption was granted to an anonymous fighter for UFC 152 (MMA Junkie, 2012). Speculation was rife that it was Vitor Belfort and this was essentially confirmed when he was granted a further exemption for his next two fights in Brazil at UFC on FX 7 and 8 (MMA Junkie, 2013) (Fightline, 2013).

Apparently, his testosterone usage goes back even further as Belfort revealed in a puzzling interview to UOL that he was already using testosterone when he fought Anderson Silva, back in 2011 at UFC 126.

“I’ve (been doing this) for three years,” Belfort said. “I did some exams and they saw I had low testosterone levels. The doctor said ‘Vitor, we need to do something. I don’t know if you agree with this, but it’s important that you do it.’ And it was done.”

“If you has something, if you need something, do it the right way. That’s what I do. I do blood tests all the time… It’s a process that you have to do, (MMA Fighting, 2013).

And who is the doctor UFC uses to oversee fighters using testosterone on foreign shows? Dr. Jeff Davidson via Marc Ratner.

Read the Halloween UOL article (via MMA Fighting) carefully & in its entirety.

When did it start?

Based on this UOL article, one has to wonder if Belfort was also using testosterone in his previous fights against Yoshihiro Akiyama and Anthony Johnson, which took place in Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro respectively. By admitting he has been using testosterone for the past three years, Belfort has essentially admitted that he has cheated in three separate fights.

How dare you call using testosterone cheating!

When a fighter has elevated levels of testosterone or gets busted for steroids, they’re cheaters. When they get a mark doctor to cry hypogonadism and issue a testosterone slip, they have “a medical condition.” There’s sure a lot of muscular, brawny men in Mixed Martial Arts who have serious medical conditions requiring the approval of anabolic steroids.

While the legitimacy of the testosterone exemption Belfort received from the Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA) can certainly be questioned based on his prior failed drug test against Dan Henderson, he did in fact receive permission to use testosterone from the sanctioning body. In his fight against Anderson Silva, and two subsequent fights, he did not seek or receive permission to use testosterone. Using testosterone without a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) is straight up cheating.

Belfort was able to originally escape punishment as his testosterone use was not detected as current testing does not utilize Carbon-Isotope Ratio testing (CIR test) due to its high cost. The fact that Belfort’s unauthorized testosterone usage was not detected is not surprising as Keith Kizer admitted in the Lamont Peterson situation that the NSAC likely would not have caught Peterson for testosterone usage due to their inadequate testing (Fight Opinion, 2012). It’s easy to microdose or use gels & creams that are hard to track without proper drug testing.

Belfort also went on to say he would stop using testosterone if that was one of the conditions for him getting a middleweight title shot: Isn’t it funny that MMA fighters who cry hypogonadism are so easily able to turn the on/off switch when it comes to using testosterone?

“I’ve already said that, if they agree with it, I would (stop doing TRT),” he said. “No problem at all. If they want me to get there in a disadvantage, that’s ok, (MMA Fighting, 2013).

I’m not sure why Belfort would say this as anything but a last resort. Maybe he feels like the only way for him to get a title shot is to give up using testosterone. When we hammered home the industry-wide problem of testosterone usage a couple of years ago, our claim was simple: the testosterone plague would become one of the biggest problems that the sport of Mixed Martial Arts would end up having to deal with in the future. It is the UFC, not boxing promoters, that has driven the modern day testosterone plague in combat sports. It is the UFC with their on-again, off-again attitude about testosterone usage that has created an atmosphere in which the sport they promote is as dirty as horse racing. Their enablers in “the government” can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. It is an undeniable stain on the sport’s credibility.

How can MMA be safer when top guys are begging for anabolic steroids?

When you have a testosterone hall of fame list in MMA that reportedly includes Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Robert Drysdale, Lavar Johnson, Joe Warren, Ben Rothwell (claiming brain damage from a car accident), Bristol Marunde, Nate Marquardt, Vitor Belfort, Rampage Jackson, Todd Duffee, Shane Roller, and Dennis Hallman then God only knows how much of an epidemic it truly is given the current substandard drug testing (outside of VADA) in the sport. Don’t worry, the testosterone critics are just ignorant. You’re right. We’re ignorant when it comes to the four main root causes for fighters turning to the magic T in the first place:

1) previous and/or current steroid usage
2) damage from weight cutting
3) brain damage/concussions
4) abuse of pain killers/opiates

The testosterone usage is merely a symptom of much larger problems that fighters are dealing with right now in MMA.

Isn’t this testosterone replacement therapy routine supposed to be something that once you get on, you can’t get off without suffering from nasty side effects? Recently, some fighters (like Shane Roller & Dan Henderson) have allegedly started-and-stopped their testosterone routines. How are they able to do this all of a sudden? If testosterone usage is essential for the hypogonadism-inflicted fighters to keep competing, how are they able to fight — in the UFC no less! — without using testosterone? If the testosterone usage is a legitimate medical concern, wouldn’t these fighters be battling regulators & promoters tooth-and-nail in a courtroom by citing the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Question: If MMA fighters are able to start-and-stop their testosterone routines after applying for testosterone slips from regulators & promoters, then why are the regulators & promoters not rescinding the slips they issued in the first place?

Who’s ready for that Brazilian testosterone super battle next week between Vitor Belfort & Dan Henderson? Let’s bring out Chael “The Axiron Murderer” Sonnen to promote TUF Brazil with Wanderlei Silva while we’re at it.

Topics: Brazil, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

21 Responses to “The magic T’s on/off switch: Vitor Belfort’s golden flip on using testosterone”

  1. Jason says:

    Here we go, Zach on his TRT rant. You’re starting to sound like a whiny liberal. Maybe I don’t get all up in arms about this stuff because I’ve been around athletics all my life and know professional players in baseball and football and know its prevelance in those sports. Steroids have always been around and used in all types of sports, collegiate and professional. Does it make it right…no, but it’s not going away. As long as there are millions and millions of dollars to be made and the pressue to always compete at the highest levels from fans, coaches and owners, it’s always going to be there. I’ve been in bodybuilding for years and know first hand what testosterone can and can’t do. It doesn’t make you into some savage world beater, evidenced by fighters who have tested positive and gotten beat. I guess you just chose to ignore Marc Ratners recent comments about the UFC following the NSAC guidelines which will make it harder to get those exemptions; but then again that would go against your “crusade”.

  2. Chris says:

    I also love the fact that Vitor states that he would have no problem discontinuing his TRT use if a title shot was dependent on it. Poor guy, he sounds so conflicted. :)

    • RST says:

      But if he needs it so bad, wouldn’t that be when he needs it the most.

      I dont know about “poor guy”,
      some things dont deserve sympathy.

      Poor guys who have to fight this cheater because they’re afraid they could lose their job if they dont.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Great article. I have nothing to add, just wanted to say that.

    *******

    MMA Junkie has lost credibility today. They are running advertisements for Bellator that look like articles.

    A new low in MMA Journalism. Completely pathetic.

    Here is an example:
    http://www.mmajunkie.com/news/2013/11/can-pat-curran-defend-his-title-against-old-foe-daniel-straus

    It is at least 1 of 3 that I have seen.

  4. RST says:

    I think there might be a difference between hardcore fans and casual fans.

    Hardcore fans are going to vocally complain about the quality and legitimacy of the sport and its athletes.

    Casual fans dont care.
    They saw the UFC promo and they heard that vitor belfort is pretty awesome.

    And the casual fan just may be where a lot of the buys/money comes from.

    (I think theres also a large portion of society who say and repeat things just to be conversational and be paid attention to, but they dont really feel any requirement to believe or adhere to the things they say.)

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    U-Verse now has Fox Sports 2 in HD…. I wonder when this will happen for the other cable companies.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    Bellator payouts for tonights event were released. I calculated the BEST case scenario for Bellator, where each lower paid fighter wins his fight. They will be paying out:

    $522,500…. And it is more likely to be over $600,000 after the event is over.

    Combine that with the fact that they ate a bunch of PPV costs. And that Rampage still needs to be paid in a few weeks…. And this has to be a huge loss for them for the entire month of November.

    And if anybody watched the weigh-ins, the place sounded empty. There was barely an applause for the main event.

    • Jonathan says:

      45 Huddle,

      I think that people get that you do not like Bellator, and I think that people realize/know that they are not in the same league as the UFC. People understand know that, but so many times what leads people to criticize you is that you continually harp on something “non-UFC”, even when folks don’t disagree with you and probably even DO agree with you.

      I’ve not see one person tell me that Bellator has the “best” fighters in the world, or that they are the “best” organization, or that they are “better” then the UFC, so why the continuing focus on them?

      I made a post before about people treating Bellator as “major league” just because they were in third place when Strikeforce was absorbed into the UFC. The same can be true of the folks that criticize them as well, and to me, neither is right.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I was looking forward to tonights Bellator card. My post has nothing to do with that.

        It has to do with there potentially bad financial situation which could effect the future of the company.

        If Bellator falls, it is a good thing for MMA. They have treated their fighters poorly. They have bad practices.

      • Alan Conceicao says:

        My memory with 45 Huddle is that he was perfectly OK with Bellator when they were a “developmental” promotion geared to hispanics on ESPN Deportes in spite of being run by the same crook then. Lots of the quasi-UFC Defense League were all too happy to swallow Bjorn’s load about “doing things the right way” then. Too bad for Eddie Alvarez that the UFC saw Hector Lombard as being worth something like 3 times more money, because he’s stuck in irrelevancy now.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Correct. I have no problem with any organization that does not get in the way of fighters moving up to the next level.

          Once they start to stop fighters from making the logical next step, I can’t stand it.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    I missed the last round of Alvarez/Chandler. I fell asleep after the 5th round of Lawal/Newton, and my DVR was only set up to record Bellator for 30 minutes after the end time. It still went over that.

    Alvarez has one more fight to win and then he can go to the UFC.

    This event really blew up in Bellator’s face.

    1) All 3 title fights went the distance. Somehow that always happens when organizations try to put on 3 title fights. This felt like UFC 33 and Strikeforce on CBS. The only difference is that Chandler/Alvarez was good.

    2) King Mo lost again, despite being given a title shot for an interim title that was pointless (the champion is healthy).

    3) Alvarez is one fight away from walking away with their belt, just like Lombard did and Askren is going to do.

    The last point can’t be said enough. Bellator has spent so much energy to not be a feeder league to the UFC. In fact, they have gone so overboard that they have hurt their ability to sign quality fighters for the future. And do you know where it is getting them? Absolutely no where. The champions are still finding ways to leave. They are just sitting out longer and waiting their time.

    Bellator is going to lose fighters to the UFC no matter what…. Mine as well make the transition easy so young prospects are more willing to sign with them.

    The event overall was really bad until the main event.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      I’ve said it a million times: TV networks don’t want to invest large amounts of money into minor league sports. Not AAA baseball, not arena league football, not the AHL, not Indycar, not any of that. Viacom bought Bellator to have it resemble a major league MMA promotion and draw ratings. If they wanted a minor league that fed the UFC, they’d have struck a deal for King of the Cage taped programming like MavTV did.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “I missed the last round of Alvarez/Chandler.”

      I cannot emphasize enough how much you need to go find a complete copy of that fight and watch it in it’s entirety. The last round was fantastic and was the perfect way to wrap up what is without a doubt one of the best fights of 2013, if not THE best fight of 2013.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “The event overall was really bad until the main event.”

      Agreed … but an OUTSTANDING main event goes a long way towards making up for anything that preceded it.

      The only problem is …. how many people stuck around for the main event? After the event opened strong with a quick KO, there were 13 rounds of middling to downright boring MMA before the main event, which didn’t even start until well after the show was supposed to already be over. If the Fightmaster finale and the FW and LHW title fights didn’t chase the fans off, the 12:15 start to the main event did.

      I will be absolutely shocked if the ratings for event peaked during the main event. I suspect they peaked early and dwindled throughout the night until only a fraction of the initial audience remained to witness the truly excellent main event.

      • edub says:

        It will probably get killed in the DVR numbers too as it went incredibly far over again.

        Which is actually a huge problem with the promotion and SPIKE. They do this virtually every show, and it usually screws most of the main event.

  8. [...] symptom of much larger problems that fighters are dealing with right now in MMA,” Zach Arnold wrote last week at Fight Opinion. Arnold lists the four reasons that fighters use TRT: 1) previous and/or current steroid usage 2) [...]

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