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UFC takes a hit in the ratings while Nate Marquardt elaborates on TRT usage

By Zach Arnold | June 28, 2011

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On a day where a Spike TV replay of a Nate Marquardt fight beat the ratings that UFC Live 4 on Versus drew, Nate Marquardt appeared with his manager Lex McMahon on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani (in studio) to discuss the reason he was fired from the UFC last weekend.

The issue revolves around Testosterone Replacement Therapy. He was not cleared to fight because of a hormone replacement therapy situation. The idea, in theory, is that one’s endocrine system is damaged to where the normal 1:1 Testosterone-to-Epitestosterone ratios are not reach and that TRT is, in theory, used to regain that 1:1 level. However, as Dr. David Black (who is/was involved in the NFL/WWE drug testing programs) once stated on 60 Minutes, ‘testosterone is the base chemical for steroids.’

While every individual has their own particular medical reasons for using TRT, TRT is most often associated (in sports) for those who have damaged their endocrine system due to previous steroid usage or from damage caused by something such as weight cutting.

Heavy reports that Marquardt failed to provide the necessary paperwork that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission wanted before approving the usage of HRT/TRT.

Jordan Breen:

Marquardt story in short: approved for hormone replacement, didn’t keep his T:E ratio in order, warned to do so, wasn’t cleared to fight.

Nate Marquardt just gave the first full, honest explanation of his positive test after the Salaverry test. A very, very pleasant surprise.

Tomas Rios:

So our options are Marquardt’s a dummy, Marquardt’s doctor is a dummy or they’re both dummies.

People acting like this seems legit know absolutely nothing, not a damn thing, about how TRT works in the hands of a proper endocrinologist.

Oh, it absolutely is Marquardt’s job to ensure he meets all licensing requirements. It’s his job and his job alone.

I’m amazed that Marquardt finally FINALLY came clean on his 2005 positive test. Maybe it’ll take another six years to clear up the new mess.

I hope folks realize how beyond incompetent your endocrinologist has to be to mess up your T:E ratio.

There are gaping holes in Marquardt’s story, but at least he and Lex McMahon are prepared to handle this story in a professional manner. HRT/TRT is beyond rare in young people. World-class athletes with 12 years of training camps behind them? Hahahahaha.

Can’t wait until someone finds out who Marquardt’s doctor is. I suspect there’s a reason why the doctor has yet to be named. Marquardt’s basically saying his doctor’s solution to the T:E ratio problem was to give it the old college try. What a pro. Marquardt’s doctor was using treatment protocols not accepted by the USADA. Where’s my smoking gun of quackery?

Either legalize everything or ban everything. I’m sick of the loopholes, the half-truths and quack doctors infecting MMA.

Greg Savage:

My question is why would Marquardt be allowed to fight in NJ if his levels were high and why wasn’t Dan Miller notified? Nate still looks bad but NJSACB looks even worse. If Nate is right about this how can you let someone fight with elevated levels of test?

Mike Chiappetta:

Marquardt said he was on therapy when he fought in NJ. They required more tests from him, which he passed.

His testosterone level was too high on Saturday. He says PA commission told him that now he will be clear to fight, levels are normal now.

Marquardt said he took over the counter andro for several years until 2005, and wonders if this led to his low testosterone production.

Geno Mrosko:

While I, personally, couldn’t care less if everyone in sports is on something like TRT or steroids or whatever, this is a disaster.

And, just like Nate and his camp wanted, Helwani builds him up by saying he’s “facing the music.”

Questions to be asked & answered

  1. Why did Dana White fire Nate Marquardt over TRT usage and Chael Sonnen still is under contract? (I’ll leave that for you to answer.)
  2. TRT usage by MMA fighters is akin to what big corporations do when they stash cash offshore to avoid taxation, it’s one giant loophole that exposes the drug testing programs used by various athletic commissions. If testosterone is the base chemical of steroids and yet ‘normal’ steroid usage isn’t allowed by commissions, then why should TRT ever be allowed by the commissions for guys who are athletically at a high level?
  3. Why do athletic commissions allow TRT to happen but suspend fighters for using marijuana?

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “UFC takes a hit in the ratings while Nate Marquardt elaborates on TRT usage”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    1) Chael failed once. Marquardt already pissed hot once, was pissing hot a 2nd time under the disguise of TRT, and also ruined a main event.

    2) It’s a loophole that needs to be, and will eventually be closed. I feel like this is 2003 in baseball right now. We all know it will come to an end, but we just need to wait for the pressure to mount for it to happen.

    3) Commissions are bad. That is why.

    Marquardt is a cheater. He deserved to get cut.


    On the SpikeTV ratings…. Which was the highest rated MMA show of the weekend when there was 3 live shows….

    I’m glad SpikeTV did this. It paints a very clear picture that they can put up a marginal replay and it will do better then what Versus can do with a solid card live.

    The UFC will shoot themselves in the foot if they take the NBC deal and don’t have at least a guaranteed 6 to 8 NBC shows to make up for the difference.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      1) Chael failed once. Marquardt already pissed hot once, was pissing hot a 2nd time under the disguise of TRT, and also ruined a main event.

      In order to believe that the TRT/steroid usage is just a one-time deal, you have to be incredibly believing of both men.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I think Sonnen was more recent. At least his body looked that way. He was showing more back acne then he ever did before. He was more defined then before. He never had real signs of abuse until….

        Actually, until he started making a run at the UFC title.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I was never in favor of year round testing, but at this point, with the abuse that is obviously going on, I think the following needs to happen:

      1) No more TRT

      2) Testing on athletes 3 months before a fight, 1 month before a fight, and within a day of the fight. So 3 full tests per fighter per fight.

      3) Strict rules as to the penalties for testing positive. Implement a “3 Strikes You’re Out” Policy with definitive guidelines as to what the punishment should be for each offense.

      This can no longer be placed as a burder on the Athletic Commissions. They have shown to be incompetent. Between their lack of drug testing, arbitrary sentences, and allowing certain fighters to compete (like guys who should be banned)…. It’s obvious that the UFC needs to really just take this over and go above and beyond what the AC’s are doing at this time.

    • Dukes says:

      There is no “loop hole” with TRT/HRT, and it cannot be banned.

      Drug testing does two major things: tests concentrations of various hormones and their relation to one another (eg, Testosterone to Epitestosterone), and tests for the presence of metabolites from exogenous synthetic testosterone analogues (eg, Nandrolone metabolites that do not normally exist in the blood).

      In both Chael and Nate’s case, their normal T:E ratio was low enough to warrant supplementing with some testosterone supplement – we do not know if he was prescribed straight testosterone or an analogue (like oral Anavar often prescribed to those with severe wasting disease like HIV/AIDS). Doctors will not *normally* prescribe TRT based on a persons feeling of “well being”. Blood tests typically confirm a low T:E ratio, and a hormone replacement protocol is administered to return the T:E ratio (or even just serum levels of “T” itself) to a medically acceptable “normal” level.

      It’s important to understand that the process of undergoing TRT/HRT is a medical decision between a patient and a doctor, just like a decision to administer radiation to treat a tumor or whether or not to get a “Lap Band” to battle obesity.

      As far as any athletic commission is concerned, they have no right, statutory or otherwise, to know that an athlete competing under their jurisdiction is on HRT/TRT, except for the the two instanced mentioned above:

      1. If the athlete knows he will fail a blood test because of the presence of metabolites in his blood as a result of TRT/HRT, he had better tell the commission why they’re there and present the commission with the required documentation to prove the substance(s) administered were the result of a medical consultation and not from illicit use. If he does NOT tell the commission, it will appear as a run of the mill “failed” test, ala Josh Barnett.

      2. If an athlete knows his serum levels of testosterone or his T:E ratio will be above the normally accepted values, he had better tell the commission and present them with the same documentation. It’s important to note that having valid TRT/HRT documentation is NOT an excuse nor does it permit a fighter to compete with elevated levels. If the therapy went awry (like it appears in Nate’s case), the commission could and would deny the fighter a license, but would NOT suspend them for illicit use. It would be a case of “tough luck – we know you’ve got the doctors note, but you cannot compete at your current levels.”

      If administered properly, it can be impossible to detect if a fighter is undergoing HRT/TRT. It’s purpose is to maintain normal blood levels. If the TRT/HRT maintains normal levels, how could the commission know (apart from metabolites from a non-testosterone hormone replacement)?

      It appears that Nate told the commission that either his levels might be high or he would have metabolites in his blood from the TRT. They asked him to bring his doctor’s note and he didn’t (or one that was not sufficient).

      Dana fired him because he had six weeks to comply with the PA commission’s request and he didn’t. Chael flunked a test from non-illicit use and “did his time”. If he fails a test again, he will be cut for sure.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Let’s see who his doctor was…I’ll bet it’s a f#%king quack just like Chael’s. Your whole argument is all well and good until you look at it from the perspective of competitive athletes trying to get an edge. They’re just going to run to a friendly doc that like $$$ or being buddies with athletes and get a script, just like all the WWF guys got away with it.

        If you want to allow TRT/HRT then they should mandate that you MUST get approved/prescribed by a commission approved endocrinologist and the commissions need to get together and all recognize only certain accredited and competent doctors. Not some a-hole that went to University of Phoenix Online MD. And it should be required that fighters must waive HIPAA protections and disclose openly that they are using TRT/HRT.

        I bet if they instituted proper channels, oversight and procedures we’d see about 0.01% of these so called fighters who “NEED TRT to get out of bed” actually getting clearance.

      • edub says:

        Kinda like Gaij said above;

        That’s all perfect scenario stuff, with the athletes and doctors being completely credible and void of inappropriate behavior.

        As is said below, athletes can take multiple supplements that force false reports on their hormone levels and get described the treatment. They could also just skip the endo part and go straight to another MD.

        Im with Gaij here, if it is truly “needed” then athletes should all go through AC sponsored endo’s and make their use of the process public.

      • Norm says:

        Dukes-that’s a great post, but the underlying problem is what is a “normal” Test level, and who determines what that “normal” level is?

        Right now you’ve got wide ranging values that will vary from doctor to doctor.

  2. Joe says:

    The thing that bugs me is how many media types and fans pay lip service to the obvious steroid loopholes and steroid excuses that athletes use. It’s akin to the way the media pays lip service to obvious lies and half-truths from celebrities and especially politicians. As Tomas Rios says in that quote, the reaction to a world-class athlete (in a highly regulated sport) claiming to be suffering from a major testosterone deficiency should be HA HA HA HA HA!

  3. edub says:

    There are arguments for both sides, but if we are really being fair here Sonnen should be gone also. The hypocrisy is just a little too high for my tastes. I mean Sonnen would have been in the exact same situation if he would have disclosed his TRT usage earlier to CSAC, instead of just saying “hey you guys no I’m on TRT right” the night before the fight. He still doesn’t have anything beyond a shady testimony from an MD that really isn’t qualified anyway to prescribe the treatment.

    Also if we are going to give Chael and Hendo the benefit of the doubt because of wrestling: Nate wrestled all the way through HS, then went directly into fighting (which he also involves cutting weight routinely). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s probably because of that. What I’m saying is to believe one side of that coing, and completely dismiss Nate is a little bit of a reach.

    I agree with 45 in saying all TRT or HRT needs to be gone from fighting. This is just too much of a gray area that can be exploited by people with the right connections.

    • edub says:

      BTW Dana made another pretty good statement this weekend about the PSAC being the best in the business. I have to completely agree now knowing everything that went down, with the kicker being them not releasing any info. Making Nate man up to it was the cherry on top IMO.

  4. Steve says:

    Ok here’s my take on this and this is coming from a guy with 25yrs of lifting under his belt and has taken every steroid possible know to man. The problem with TRT is the doctors. If you were under legit TRT, your test levels wouldn’t be any higher than a normal person your age (especially a young one), that’s the purpose of the therapy. If that were to hold true there would be no advantage for that individual over another fighter because their test levels would be the same. What alot of fighters, bodybuilders and lifters will do is take a supplement (like Andro) that will suppress your natural testosterone production and then go to the doctor and say see I have low testosterone. Now a good endocronologist will try to get to the root of the problem before prescribing exogenous testosterone. Trust me I know, I’ve tried. They will typically tell you to not take anything for a year and then they will retest. If everything still isn’t normal, you may get HCG. HCG is almost identical to the LH (leutinizing hormone from the anterior pituitary) which is a hormone messenger that instructs the testicle to make more testosterone. Endos are reluctant to prescribe testosterone to their patients as it will permanently suppress their own natural production until they quit. Of course I’m not a doctor, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn.

    • Dukes says:

      “Of course I’m not a doctor, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn.” – Classic!

      You’re 100% right about the doctors. Most docs not in it for the $$$ would be putting you under all kinds of test like MRI’ing your pituitary, 90-120 days re-tests with NOT vitamin/supplement usage.

      Writing a script for any schedule III substance scares the crap out of any normal doc, especially to a guy with 10% bodyfat and delts like softballs!

      • Norm says:

        I imagine alot or most of the “Doctors” doing scripts for TRT/HRT are MMA fanboys willing to do whatever just to have an MMA fighter as one of their clients.

  5. Ergface says:

    I say UFC should get it all out, no exceptions no matter who administers the therapy or what circusmtances. I’m with Rios and others who point to how goofy it is to believe any of these guys actually need this treatment. And hey even if a fighter finds themself in a position where they legitimately need TRT then they must sacrifice their UFC career, and that is that. There are hundreds of healthy fighters out there that can take the spot.

  6. Chris says:

    Do people really not understand why Nate is gone and Sonnen isnt?

    Last I checked Sonnen didnt fuck up a main event did he? Had Sonnen did the exact same thing Nate did and 117 main event got scrapped Sonnen would have been fired on the spot.

    not rocket science people.

    The ratings, Spike is in 20 mill more homes and I’m willing to bet that half the people who watched that event on Spike probably thought they were watching the live UFC.

    Spike/UFC are one in the same, people see oh UFC this weekened they turn on Spike and its on, only its not the live show but many casual fans probably didnt know that.

    Doesnt really matter though cause the UFC was countered with the UFC not another org.

    My question is if UFC leaves Spike, Spike doesnt have rights to those events anymore do they? When UFC leaves can Spike still run replays of UFC 95 or Fight Nights?

    UFC needs to get onto main NBC, thats what they really need to do.

    Personally I know Spike shows do more viewers, they had years of shows and building up Spike/UFC so people know Spike as home to UFC but the Versus shows I like better.

    Pre fight shows, post fight shows, they showed the press conference, I love that so much more then just a reg Spike show.

    Just like any other sport you turn on ESPN or post game shows for teh Yanks you want to hear breakdowns and shit, never understood why UFC/Spike didnt do something like this from the start.

    They aired the weigh ins a few times, that should be done every event, post fights shows should be done, show the press conference for the events should be shown, thats why if the UFC did buy G4 they could run pre and post fight shows for every fight, live weigh ins, I want all that stuff.

    • edub says:

      “Last I checked Sonnen didnt fuck up a main event did he? Had Sonnen did the exact same thing Nate did and 117 main event got scrapped Sonnen would have been fired on the spot.”

      He didn’t do the same thing, because he never let ANYONE know about TRT. All he did was tell the guy piss testing him that he was on the treatment (taking his chances on maybe just passing the test). What Nate did was actually somewhat truthful (and downright noble compared to what Chael did).

      Are you saying that Nate should have just not let anybody know about the problem, and just take the failed test he was bound to get?

      • Alan Conceicao says:

        That is, indirectly, what he is suggesting.

        • edub says:

          OH, then maybe I should have wrote, we all understand. We just don’t agree with Dana keeping Chael because he sells fights better. But I thought that was kind of a given.

  7. The Gaijin says:

    Re the ratings…I agree with Chris. For all the diehards and hardcores, there’s a whole boatload of casuals who generally just equate “Spike TV” with “UFC” so they probably didn’t realize the difference. The whole creatures of habit thing.

    Plus you should have seen Dana’s twitter, he had lots of people tweeting him to ask him why they couldn’t find the event on Spike or what channel was it on…seriously, North Americans are becoming so brain-dead -“Why isn’t UFC on Versus on my Spike TV station?!”

    • mr. roadblock says:

      Every time an event is on Versus I have to use the guide feature on my remote to look up UFC then find Versus. Versus is a terrible channel to be on.

  8. Simon Cason says:

    Like I said on twitter, I believe this was a failed attempt by Nate to come up with a ready made excuse for knowingly failing the test.

    It seems to me that whether 3 days out or 3 weeks out, Nate knew there was a chance he’d fail the test. In the mean time, he tried everything possible to get his levels down, with the knowledge that he can always use the “Doctor said I’d be at normal levels by fight week” excuse.

    From conflicting reports, Seems Dana has known about this for a few weeks, probably gave Nate an ultimatum: Get your levels fixed, or get your doctor to come up with paperwork stating he needs TRT. Can’t really blame Dana for firing Nate, if this is indeed what happened. Again, this is just how I see things.

    Chael is still with UFC because there is still value there. There’s a huge rematch to be made with Anderson some time in the future.

    Kind of goes back to my original point about Nate knowing what he had to do and the amount of time he knew going in. It’s sort of like Dana said, “Ok, you may or may not have a problem with Testosterone. Regardless, you still have to abide by the AC, get your test results in order, get paperwork ready.” Basically giving Nate ample time and opportunity to get his shit in order.

    The fact he didn’t do any of that, after being told by everyone from Dana, his doctor, to PSAC, pretty much guaranteed his termination. It’s as if Nate pissed all over Dana’s leg, only to leave Dana to wipe it up. Of course Nate’s getting fired.

    There is no good explanation for why TRT is allowed in some instances, yet Marijuana is not. I could write a huge rant about the hypocrisy and idiocy of banning fighters from using Pot, all the while labeling it “performance enhancing”. There is nothing in Pot’s chemical makeup that remotely resembles performance enhancing.

    • Kelvin Hunt says:

      Co-Sign this^

    • Pete says:

      It may not be performance enhancing like a steroid, but marijuana does have pain relieving properties. That definitely provides an advantage over another fighter.

      • Chuck says:

        It’s a pain reliever, not a pain immunizer. Even if you’re high if you get punched in the face it WILL hurt. I don’t know from experience (never touched the stuff, don’t plan on it) but it’s true.

        Hey, I remember before the second Shane Mosley/Fernando Vargas fight Mosley got a judged to ban Gatorade (of all things) from being used in between rounds of their fight (the first fight Vargas was drinking Gatorade in-between rounds). I would say Gatorade is more of a PED than weed because of the electrolytes.

  9. david m says:

    I just want to thank Dukes and Steve for very good posts on this topic; kudos.

  10. Bob says:

    1. I wonder how Dana would’ve responded if Chael had not been able to fight Anderson.

    2. I don’t see how testosterone can be called the base chemical for steroids since it is a steroid itself. I mean, CO2 (plants) and acetate could be called the base chemicals for steroids. I understand what he was trying to say, but he didn’t do so correctly.


    Testosterone, a chemical, is a steroid that often serves as the base for further modification in the search for more potent anabolics.


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