By Zach Arnold | March 6, 2014
“They recognize the significance and severity of the issue.”
That was a comment from ESPN writer Mike Fish during a recent interview with Sherdog’s Jack Encarnacao. While not a lot of big news was broken during the conversation, there were some interesting details that help fill in the picture about what transpired in the months leading up to Sig Rogich and company in Nevada helping the UFC executive a public relations U-turn on anabolic steroid (testosterone) usage slips for fighters.
“(This is) something that has weighed on them for a while and I don’t think they felt a need to do anything until they had to do something.”
As I’ve said for a long time, the UFC never had a coherent answer to the anabolic steroid plague because, yeah, they knew it was messy but they didn’t take the situation serious enough to formulate a focused public relations response in managing the situation once it turned into crisis mode. The great irony is that UFC brought this upon themselves when they named vitor Belfort the #1 challenger for the Middleweight title after he beat Dan Henderson last November in Brazil.
Belfort is the poster child for testosterone usage now in MMA for both the right & wrong reasons. Right because he had failed a drug test in the past and was a newly confident man once he got on the juice. Wrong because it certainly felt like his status as a non-American was being used against him on the steroid issue while hucksters like Chael Sonnen maintained babyface status. The ESPN writer said that when he went down to Boca Raton to interview Vitor that he would become the face of MMA’s testosterone problem.
Mr. Fish told Jack that he had started investigating the testosterone issue in MMA approximately six months ago and that he had sent numerous records requests to various state athletic commissions and received information from all except New Jersey’s commission. He also noted in past investigations that he didn’t get cooperation from the NHL on testosterone exemption information. Fish said that MLB, in comparison, was freely open about drug testing & exemption information.
Fish detailed his many attempts to deal with UFC, both in person and on the phone, for interviews with management. The first time he contacted them he said he would go to Las Vegas and sit down with them but was reportedly told that they were too busy. Then they allegedly asked him what he wanted to talk about and rejected his request. Two months ago, Fish contacted the UFC again and they asked Fish to provide a list of questions in advance before they would consider a possible interview. He went ahead and supposedly sent them 15-to-20 questions and was rejected. Fish got a hold of the Brazilian doctor working with Vitor Belfort and the doctor asked for any inquiries to be done in e-mail. Questions were sent and the doctor didn’t respond. Another message was sent to the doctor and, again, no response.
As for what’s next after Nevada’s U-turn on giving out future testosterone exemptions to fighters? Chael Sonnen came out publicly and said he might not be able to fight any more after the Wanderlei Silva bout if he can’t get an exemption. Will Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (or another fighter) attempt to establish case law by filing suit, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to get a court ruling regarding future testosterone use by fighters in a legally-classified ultrahazardous sport?