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“We’re the most tested sport in the world” ain’t cutting it no more

By Zach Arnold | April 4, 2012

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What’s that, you say? MMA doesn’t have a major drug problem? MMA doesn’t have a major scandal brewing over testosterone usage?

Alistair Overeem reportedly tested over a 10/1 T/E ratio for high testosterone levels on a Nevada drug test today. He’s out of his upcoming fight against Junior dos Santos in late May. Since Overeem hadn’t been licensed yet by Nevada, he can’t be suspended — he just can’t get licensed. As Victor Conte recently noted, 6:1 T/E levels is practically rolling out a red carpet. To fail that standard is utterly confounding.

You can look at this development in one of two ways: a) the current drug testing protocols being used are working or b) if this many fighters are failing a standard IQ test, imagine what the hell would be revealed using a combination of blood testing & Carbon Isotope Ratio urine testing.

I choose door B. Keith Kizer will go around parading that his ‘out of competition’ drug testing works when basically he did the minimum by waiting for a bunch of fighters to show up in Nevada for a presser and then bringing out the urine collectors there. That’s not exactly ‘out of competition’ testing by traditional standards.

No wonder guys are crying foul about hypogonadism and trying to get a proverbial hall pass from athletic commissions to use testosterone as opposed to taking their chances just using a standard Vitamin S diet. The S means… Strikeforce… yeah, that’s the ticket.

A person I respect very much tried to make the argument to me the other day in defense of TRT passes from AC’s and it can be paraphrased like this: “We know guys are using and aren’t getting caught, so we might as well encourage guys coming forward for some sort of regulation.” I view this as the ‘let’s legalize prostitution, let’s legalize marijuana use’ viewpoint. The problem with this is that those activities are about your personal activity. If you want to do those activities at your own risk, then so be it. But using testosterone and getting into a cage to beat the hell out of another fighter? That’s an issue of public safety and not simply individual responsibility.

There’s a very simply solution for fighters, promoters, and athletic commissions who want to clean up the sport – work with associations like USADA & the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, two organizations that do have the tools to test for the proper drugs that should be scrutinized. Trying to mete out punishment for a guy over marijuana metabolites on the same level as a steroid user is preposterous.

The biggest change in terms of drug testing for combat sports needs to be a tactical change. There should be a heavy emphasis on drug testing before a fight happens as opposed to simply waiting until after the fight actually occurs. If this is a health & safety issue (which it is), then out-of-competition drug testing combined with CIR/blooding testing protocols is the responsible method of drug testing. The current pre-fight/post-fight urine drug testing standards being used now simply is more about routine than it is about really attacking the problem of drug usage itself. The whole point of drug testing should be to keep the drug users out of the ring/cage and from brutalizing opponents while using PEDs.

As for what the media can do to help shine a light on drug use in the sport? Simple — start naming names of mark doctors who are hooking the fighters up with drugs. Put the spotlight on the drug fixers. If they want to be mark doctors, then call their bluff and out them. Give them the spotlight and let’s see if the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ applies for these doctors who like the fame of being associated with their favorite fighters.

However, will that happen? I have my doubts. The most common headline for today’s developments? “UFC boss irate with Alistair Overeem over failed drug test.”

There was an interesting quote from Dana White in this Kevin Iole article at Yahoo that just went online:

“We have to have a rapport with these guys,” White told Yahoo! Sports Wednesday. “We’re not the police, we’re not the commission, we’re not their mothers or their fathers. If you do something stupid, at least be honest with us so we can help you deal with it and fix it.

“He lied straight to our faces. That has me so [expletive] angry, I can’t even tell you. He said to us, ‘The last thing you have to worry about is me popping. I’m the most-tested athlete in the world.’ Yeah, [expletive] right.”

Interesting that Dana says he’s not the commission because, guess what, for many shows UFC is the commission. One of the major poster boys of testosterone usage, Chael Sonnen, is fighting in Brazil this Summer against Anderson Silva. Notice Chael’s not fighting in California, Nevada, or New Jersey? Rampage admitted that he fought at UFC Japan while using testosterone. Other guys who are using TRT also fought on overseas UFC events.

Bottom line — it’s getting harder by the day for people in the sport to MMA to defend the drug culture that currently exists. As Beau Dure adroitly noted, the MMA media’s stance of legalizing PED usage is in stark contrast to how writers in major sports feel about the issue. There’s great irony in seeing boosters of baseball get worked up over someone using testosterone in order to hit a homerun while boosters of MMA shrug at PED usage in a sport where one punch or kick could permanently disable an opponent.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 50 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

50 Responses to ““We’re the most tested sport in the world” ain’t cutting it no more”

  1. CAINtheBULL says:

    The UFC always puts the brand before the fighter. It’s obvious the UFC brass doesn’t care what you use as long as you don’t get busted and embarrass them.

    But now these failed test are reaching a level that will hurt the UFC brand. Before they could say, “it’s a lone wreck less fighter”. Now it’s too many. Dana and Lorenzo will have to act to protect their precious brand.

    To me that’s the key to get them to actually do something about it.

    Do they care about the sport? I think they do.

    Do they care more about the brand and what that means for their bottom line long term? Much more.

    The must realize by now that this is a threat to their brand. If not, They’re in big trouble.

  2. JfromRaleigh says:

    Steroids don\’t make you the Hulk. You\’re not going to punch through a guys skull on TRT. the \”public safety/somebody will get hurt\” line is kind of silly.

    There is no proof that a guy will get hurt vs a juiced fighter anymore than a non-juiced one.

    Typically when these guys get caught they lose. And I\’m willing to bet the \’Reem would have lost too.

    • HeadKck says:

      wow.. are you serious??

      • HeadKck says:

        they dont call them PERFORMANCE ENHANCING drugs for no reason.. for every 1 guy that gets caught there’s like 5+ that job the system you dont think there’s a champ that uses and cycles perfectly…. obviously reem was using something to help him train harder longer and recover faster making him wayyyy more dangerous than the average fighter….

  3. EJ says:

    So instead of going after a guy whose been suspected for years of taking steroids and hiding out in Japan to not get tested. You decide to turn this into yet another UFC bashing article, seriously Zach you’ve lost it and need to get a grip. The only thing not cutting it anymore is you right now and this is the latest example of that very fact.

    • Rich Hansen says:

      Look, here’s the deal. This isn’t one of those issues where one party is wearing a black hat, one party is wearing a white hat, and everyone knows who is who. There are multiple parties here with multiple varying interests, and every single one of them is in the wrong to one degree or another.

      Overeem is (allegedly) wrong for (allegedly) pissing (allegedly) hotter than Death Valley in summer (allegedly).

      The commissions are wrong for setting their standards so low that they aren’t issuing drug tests, they’re IQ tests.

      The UFC is in the wrong because if they truly cared about stomping out PED usage and testosterone abuse, they’d spend 1% of their profits in an effort to eradicate it. Instead, they choose to look the other way and pass the buck in as passive of a manner as possible.

      And of course, the UFC is nothing if not passive in all of their dealings that have an impact on their bottom line. They don’t aggressively compete, they tolerate all dissent, and they never draw a line in the sane on anything.

      Zach isn’t writing a UFC-bashing column here. all he’s doing is highlighting the fact that there’s more than one bad guy here.

      The general party line is like this: Something bad happens. People gang up and attack one party. Then that issue disappears and is forgotten. Then the next bad thing happens, rinse and repeat.

      But an issue like this needs to have all the individual incidents tied together, and to then be treated as one big scandal. And that’s what I see here. And Zach, feel free to correct me if I’m off base there.

      Personally, I don’t give a damn if it’s all legal, or all illegal, or if there are minimal punishments, or lifetime bans for the slightest of infractions or whatever. I just want transparency and consistency, and not to see punishment handed out on a case by case basis, based on how a certain fighter gets along with management/commissioners/etc.

      • EJ says:

        If he was actually doing that then i’d have no problem, but he’s not. All he’s done is have a 1 man crusade against the UFC and bashing them at every turn because of his own obssession with the subject. The fact that he’s reaching now to use something that is Overeems fault not the UFC to continue that attack exposes him even more.

        Everyone knows that the AC’s are testing and while I have alot of problem with them it is what it is. Like Dana says is you fail a test you are an idiot and Overeem whose on the NSAC crosshairs should have known better. This is on him nobody else, to try and blame the UFC whose actually caught guys who are names like Leben is a bunch of crap.

        • Robert Poole says:

          The best part about the internet is that if you don’t like what is being written, you can go somewhere else.

          I find the UFC testosterone situation to be something that is bound to find a much bigger audience sooner rather than later. ESPN got UFC all hot and bothered with the issue of fighter’s pay but imagine if they covered this hard. Imagine if Congress got involved like they did with MLB.

          Zach’s ahead of this story and you just don’t like it because you don’t mind dudes doping to get stronger and faster and then attempting to do physical harm to someone else. That’s your cold, heartless issue to deal with not Zach’s editorial issue.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    What we are seeing is very simple…. And while Zuffa might get the brunt of the abuse in the media… It is hardly their fault.

    Since Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, 4 of their current or past champions have failed drug tests. Those 4 fighters are Alistair Overeem, Cyborg Santos, Muhammad Lawal, & Nick Diaz. If Zuffa never purchased Strikefoce, this really wouldn’t be an issue….

    Notice how the fighters who came up in the UFC system are barely getting caught for banned substances. They professionally grew up in the testing states and have learned not to piss hot.

    Strikeforce put on many shows in either non testing or weak commission states. Because of this, the fighters never had to learn how to curb their drug uses. In a year, this influx of positive tests will be over. The Strikeforce fighters will have had to change their behavior and we won’t be seeing half as many positive tests.

    The real debate is not about the UFC here. WE KNOW THEY CATCH CHEATERS. They do so in foreign countries. They do so by putting on fights in strong commission states.

    Go look at what Bellator is doing right now. Putting on shows in either weak commission states or on Indian Reservations. When is the last time we have even heard about a Bellator fighter being tested for a banned substance?

    You want to talk about a steroid issue. Start with the company that is on TV and literally has no barriers to stop drug use.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Look at the other 5 fighters tested. Mir, Velasquez, Nelson, JDS, & Silva.

      4 of those guys are UFC fighters with 6 or more fights. The only guy coming from Strikeforce besides Overeem was Antonio Silva. And he has already pissed hot before. So the commission has already curbed his drug issues.

      Not a shock that the former Strikeforce Champion…. Who already avoided a drug test for his UFC debut for over a week…. Was the one who pissed hot.

      This is a Strikeforce fighters being cheaters issue. Nothing more nothing less. That is quickly correcting itself as they are put under the scrutiny of more drug testing.

      And for the people who think everybody is on PED’s…. If you understand anything about cycling, then EVERY ONE of those 6 fighters should have pissed hot if they were cycling properly for their fights.

      But they didn’t piss hot….

      Not as much of a problem when you think of it this way.

      Once again… A short term Strikeforce problem….

      • Manapua says:

        UFC Huddle always shows up ready to serve up some damage control.

        Ironically it’s Bas Boon’s birthday today

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So are you saying this is not a Strikeforce acquisition problem?

          The established UFC fighters have no problems passing drug tests on the whole. It’s the new Strikeforce guys who face more drug testing as the UFC takes them into tougher AC states.

          That is the only problem here.

    • Jonathan says:

      The UFC Is the sport, and the UFC owns Strikeforce. It is the same company. It all comes back on them, the good and the bad.

  5. Jason Amadi says:

    “We’re not the police, we’re not the commission, we’re not their mothers or their fathers. If you do something stupid, at least be honest with us so we can help you deal with it and fix it.”

    I still can’t get over the fact that after reading this, people think Dana White should have anything to do with testing fighters.

    I mean, is everyone missing that?

    Ed. — No one is asking him to test fighters. They’re asking for outside help from USADA, VADA. And with good reason – UFC does their own administration for foreign shows where there are no athletic commissions.

    • edub says:

      Yea, not the best of quotes.

    • Jason Amadi says:

      And when someone tests positive, what do you think the UFC is going to do about that? Are they going to suspend guys and/or cancel big fights?

      Because from the sounds of the Dana White quote I mentioned, it seems like he’d do his damnedest to cover up something like that and/or make sure the guys levels were low enough to pass the commission test.

      “We’re not the commission, don’t lie to us so we can help you” sounds awful. Sounds like the UFC should be nowhere near testing.

  6. Chromium says:

    To be fair, Dana White said they were “the most tested” sport, not the cleanest.

    Anyway, just as a starting point, they really, really need to issue blood tests for all championship matches, main-events, title eliminators, and tournament matches (in the rare cases where they have them).

    • Jason Amadi says:

      Yep. That’s what this incident proves. Not everyone is clean (like in every sport) but guys getting popped proves the tests are taking place.

  7. Zack says:

    Bummer. JDS vs Overeem was the fight I was looking most forward to this year.

  8. liger05 says:

    I find it funny reading on the net how people seem to think 6:1 is normal so if reem was 10:1 it wouldnt be even double of a normal level.

    Why do Nevada even allow a 6:1 ratio? That to me is still to high!!

    • Zach Arnold says:

      The funny part is that if he’s over 10:1 T/E ratio, he would flunk a WWE test.

      Sonnen had a high ratio when he got busted, too.

      • The Gaijin says:

        16.9:1 – which I always found funny, because even IF he did have the TUE he claimed to be given he would have been so far over the moon it wouldn’t have made an iota of difference.

  9. Mike Lewis says:

    It alsways surprises me how when ever a fighter fails a drug test this is used as an example of how the current testing isnt good enough.

    If people are getting caught then doesnt this say that it is working? Will we only be happy when everyone is caught as we automatically seem to assume that everyone is cheating?

    If they institute VADA and nobody gets caught is that because the athletes are now clean or because the testing is still not good enough?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      If they institute VADA and nobody gets caught is that because the athletes are now clean or because the testing is still not good enough?

      This is an utterly preposterous statement. Want to know how you’ll see positive effects of drug testing?

      a) Guys taking more time off to heal from injuries instead of using testosterone to try to recover quicker.

      b) Guys rapidly dropping weight classes and magically shrinking.

      c) Guys who look like well-conditioned machines suddenly start slowing down after a couple of rounds.

      If you don’t think that Carbon Isotope Ratio & blood testing won’t catch a large portion of fighters, you’re fooling yourself. How can I be so sure of this? Take a look at Nevada’s appeals process — their standard urine test is sample A and, yet, for sample B they use… Carbon Isotope Ratio testing! Wow. I wonder why?

      What’s truly remarkable is that so many fighters in MMA are using old-fashioned drugs. Throw in sloppy & incorrect usage and you end up with the situation we have now. We’re not even talking about growth hormone at this point – we’re talking anabolics, testosterone, horse steroids, pretty elementary drugs. If so many guys are getting caught using garden variety PEDs, wait until improved testing protocol catch all of those users and starts catching some growth hormone users. I would expect a rash of “I want to spend more time with my family” retirements.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        My point is that people are getting caught with the current system so how many people need to get caught before we can say the system is working?

        The fact that there has been more and more high level fighters getting caught would say to me that the current system is working.

        How is people getting caught taking steroids a sign that the current drug testing is not good enough if it is doing what it is there to do?

  10. Fortaz says:

    Guess what excuse Ubereem will bring to us?
    Here is the answer:

    Consumption of horse-meat is known to cause T/E ratios of over 9000.

    Ed. — Wasn’t that excused used by Mexican soccer national team players recently?

  11. Norm says:

    I find it SO odd that Zach’s appaled about a TRT/steroid user bashing in another fighters head, but has zero problem covering an inherehtly dangerous sport.

    Ironically enough of all the dozens of fights that fighters have pissed hot, I don’t recall one serious injury, and as a matter of fact the user typically loses.

    If you are so concerned about fighter pull a Trembow and start covering video games, or whatever it is he does now.

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    Not sure if the author came up with the idea on his own or read what I wrote and went with it. Either way, it is good to see BE putting out a good article showcasing the real drug problem in the sport.

    This is a Strikeforce aquisition problem. Nothing more, nothing less. It is almost completely resolved as those fighters are learning that they ain’t in the minor leagues anymore. They compete in more demanding drug testing states in the UFC, which means they need to change their abuses.

    • The Gaijin says:

      After the issues they’ve had buying PRIDE and now Strikeforce, maybe they need to fire the guys that do their due diligence!

      • 45 Huddle says:

        They should have done their due dillegence by having those guys compete more then once in the UFC before getting put into a title fight.

    • Jonathan says:

      Stop trolling and covering up here 45 Huddle. There is a long list of fighters that came from the UFC that have tested hot. You’re claiming, time and again, that it is JUST Strikeforce (A Zuffa Company BTW) fighters that are pissing hot, and that is just not the case. Your defense of everything that is the UFC and the persecution of everything that is NOT the UFC is in full effect here, and everyone can see it. It is so plainly obvious. I don’t know what to tell you outside of that, except that you are the consummate UFC shill. More power to you, but you’ve gone off the deep end with this one, and that is saying something.

      From now on, I will look at you as the UFC Press Secretary, because in effect, that is what you are on this site. The UFC can do no wrong, and when the UFC and/or its fighters mess up, it is REALLY not the UFC’s fault and is instead the fighters that aren’t really UFC fighters fault.


    • The Gaijin says:

      Dude – one of their more “popular” or “controversial” fighters got nailed badly for doping (16.9:1!) in a fight that he almost won and would have gotten egg ALL over the company’s face. The fallout after losing was bad enough, imagine if he’d won.

      Since then they’ve gone out of their way to book him in these same states with terrible commissions or states with no commission/where they are the de facto commission.

      Nate Marquardt made them look really bad in PA as well and got pulled off the card 24 hours before. This is hardly a case where you can point the finger at your whipping boy in Strikeforce and say everything is on them and there’s nothing to see here as far as UFC is concerned.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Did I mention Sonnen is fighting in a title fight in Brazil?? Look at the UFC running to the tough commissions showing they’re all about working with the big boys.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Sonnen is fighting in Brazil because of Anderson Silva and a potential record setting crowd. If that wasn’t possible, it would have been in Las Vegas.

          And don’t act like the UFC isn’t capable of drug testing policy. They have caught Chris Leben twice while the AC’s have never done so.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And if at the end of the day the UFC ends up implementing their own drug policy…. Then good. I have a feeling Dana White has been burned too many times lately that they are likely going to do it….

          But there is a reason why 4 UFC Heavyweight Mainstays had no problem passing a piss test that the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion failed so miserably….

        • edub says:

          Chael hasn’t competed in LV, California, or NJ (all the highest profile commission states since his test failure.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Deflect all you want but Sonnen hasn’t fought in any state with an even half assed commission since his suspension ended. FACT.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I’ve never said UFC guys don’t get busted for illegal substances. But if you look at the UFC fighters over the last year, illegal substances hasn’t been an issue. It is only when you include all of the recent Strikeforce acquistions that it all of a sudden becomes apparant there is a problem.

        • klown says:

          45 – What about Sonnen, Marquardt and others? Come on now.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Sonnen was now a few years ago.

          If you look at since the beginning of 2011, most of Zuffa’s headaches are with Strikeforce fighters.

        • Robert Poole says:

          I would say it was a pretty big problem with Rampage. How about Thiago Silva who is fighting again finally after his one year suspension? There’s a lot of UFC guys that have been busted. Trying to pass this off as Strikeforce is pretty ridiculous, IMO.

  13. klown says:

    I’m really bummed about this news *as a fan*. I really wanted to see that fight.

  14. Megatherium says:

    Actually Sonnen did come over from Strikeforce, but he can’t fight in Nevada. He’s run from regulation since his suspension.

  15. […] We’re the most tested sport in the world” ain’t cutting it no more (April 4th, 2012) […]

  16. […] testing Nevada does is mostly performed at press conferences held by promoters. As Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold stated “That’s not exactly ‘out of competition’ testing by traditional standards.” If […]

  17. […] testing Nevada does is mostly performed at press conferences held by promoters. As Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold stated “That’s not exactly ‘out of competition’ testing by traditional standards.” If […]

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