By Zach Arnold | March 12, 2014
— MMA Supremacy (@MMASupremacy) March 11, 2014
So, Kevin Iole revealed that UFC is allegedly giving comps to some writers for their Fight Pass site. Perhaps those writers, should they be revealed, might want to talk to Mommy Bloggers about what happens when the FTC decides you aren’t being transparent enough in disclosing benefits on subjects you are covering/writing about. Supposedly buying off lapdog MMA writers isn’t the end of the world but it does say something about the UFC’s on-again, off-again schizophrenic ideas of wanting writers to eat the dog food and shut up about it.
And as we saw with Dana White randomly going after Luke Thomas on Twitter in a bullying fit over Luke stating that there needs to be less volume of shows and rather a focus on better quality, the UFC has no trouble putting writers on blast who aren’t being compliant to the company’s business doctrine. That’s why I never bothered kissing their ass in the first place. What’s the point of doing that?
While the UFC is supposedly busy giving out passes to their video web site, there are mark doctors and people inside the MMA industry who are fretting about athletic commissions no longer feeling comfortable in giving out permission slips to fighters for testosterone usage. MMA Junkie talked with Dr. John Pierce, who pushed the latest line from testosterone defenders about what repercussions there will be for no longer giving out the hall passes:
Dr. John Pierce, a Las Vegas-based anti-aging doctor, has heard from several fighters who say they’d rather go to the black market for performance-enhancing drugs than get a therapeutic-use exemption (TUE) for testosterone.
“What they’ve in essence done is taken people that were forthright about their usage of testosterone for a medical purpose and punished them for it,” Pierce told MMAjunkie. “That makes no sense because, bottom line, it’s going to happen.”
Testosterone usage already was prolific and underground in nature in combat sports. It’s why VADA busting Lamont Peterson for microdosing on testosterone pellets while Nevada standard drug testing failed to detect such usage was a big deal. As I pointed out on Fight Opinion Radio, the absurdity of grown men fighting in a cage for living having to proclaim the need for anabolic steroids in order to inflict brain trauma is a political argument that would soundly get rejected by at least 80% of the general population. This isn’t a group of baseball players using testosterone to improve their ability to hit homeruns. This is a group of men who are trying to knock each other into a state of unconsciousness.
What the testosterone permission slip system did was glorify anabolic steroid usage. Instead of shaming those who asked for permission slips, it turned them into celebrities. It made them the class clowns, knowing full well that they were laughing at everybody and making fun of those who wanted to clean up the sport. And now those same individuals want to use the same kind of political argument (“hiding in the shadows”) that you hear when it comes to immigrants in the United States? There’s a big moral difference between debating amnesty for immigrants and amnesty for anabolic steroid users. But maybe that’s just me. Plus, there already was heavy underground testosterone usage happening in the first place. The permission slip system did nothing to slow underground usage in any way whatsoever.
If your body is so dysfunctional that you need anabolic steroids just to survive, why should you be allowed to fight in a cage? Furthermore, if you need to use testosterone to function on a daily basis, then why are some of the guys who got permission slips able to stop using anabolic steroids and continue their fighting careers? Homeostasis and all that jazz.
A good friend in the industry noted to me yesterday that the athletic commissions banning future testosterone permission slips to fighters is like a city posting a 50 MPH speed limit sign but not actually having any police radars to catch speeders. The regulators weren’t effective in catching the speeders in the first place and now a sign isn’t going to stop anyone who is already using testosterone. It’s why those who were celebrating the end of testosterone permission slips are missing the boat on the fact that, in terms of anabolic steroid usage in combat sports, this is just the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. The fact that Dana White remains nervous about this topic and is lashing out against ESPN (hint: Josh Gross was part of the byline on Mike Fish’s article) indicates that there’s a lot more to be revealed in the near future. Dana yelling about how he supposedly never flip-flopped on the issue of testosterone usage in MMA makes him look completely out-of-touch with reality.
The UFC didn’t have a coherent public relations strategy to deal with the testosterone issue while fighters were getting permission slips and it appears they don’t have a strategy on how to address truthful criticism about cleaning up a sport that is currently as dirty as horse racing. If they don’t come up with a real solution to clean up the business in the next few years, there will be a permanent ceiling on the growth of the sport. It’s hard to argue to non-MMA fans about the problems plaguing the industry right now.
As for the mark doctors who are continuing to push testosterone usage amongst fighters, they’re never going away. Some of them have to pay rent for their strip mall outlets, after all.