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A real crisis: The testosterone HOF grows for UFC

By Zach Arnold | June 1, 2012

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Frank Mir says getting a TUE for testosterone is like using an inhaler for asthma

Junior dos Santos was furious about what happened with Alistair Overeem and his now infamous ‘tetra mix’ shot from a mark doctor (who is in trouble again) which included testosterone. JDS has come out against testosterone users.

So, thanks to Keith Kizer, JDS ended up fighting Frank Mir while Mir was using NSAC-allowed testosterone usage.

Which, of course, makes this remark from Dave Meltzer today all the more amusing:

–All 24 fighters from Saturday’s UFC 146 PPV tested clean for both steroids and recreational drugs.

You can pass a Nevada drug test for steroids while using testosterone, the base chemical of anabolic steroids. This is now the legacy of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. As Mike Chiappetta reported in the past, the NSAC has a process of three weeks to establish a Therapeutic Use Exemption for testosterone usage for MMA fighters. Three weeks. Not three months. Three weeks.

In the case of Frank Mir, he asked for an exemption starting in 2012. Why didn’t he get an exemption before if he needed it so badly?

When Dan Henderson beat Fedor last year, I stated that his win would start to create acceptance by power brokers in the sport for the usage of Testosterone. Don’t think that’s the case? Look at the testosterone MMA hall of fame:

The scariest part? This is just a partial list of names that we publicly know. There are various state athletic commissions that give out hall passes that do not publicly disclose users given exemptions. On top of that, throw in all the guys currently using testosterone who don’t get caught because standard AC drug tests do not use the Carbon Isotope Ratio standard or blood testing.

The end result is that the biggest names in Mixed Martial Arts are doping. It’s an inescapable conclusion. Can you blame blue-chip companies that don’t want to sponsor fighters given the current doping climate?

As I noted in my crash course article on testosterone usage in MMA, the usage of T for fighters in combat sports is way more dangerous & scandalous than in sports like baseball. The issues of drug usage (PEDs & pain killers), concussions, and bad weight-cutting are all starting to form an interconnected picture that is less than flattering about the health & safety of the sport.

If only 2% of the adult male population legitimately needs to use testosterone due to low levels of T, then why do so many MMA fighters cry for a need for testosterone? For those burying their head in the sand over the issue, there’s a level of cognitive dissonance that is alarming. If the sport is so safe, then why do so many high-profile fighters need to use such a powerful chemical like testosterone in order to function?

The UFC has a giant problem — and it’s one of their own making. As we noted from comments Dana White made last weekend, the UFC claims the PED issue is blown out of proportion and yet says that they want to take drug testing to ‘the next level’ by having a supplemental drug testing program alongside the standard AC drug testing protocols. In the same breath, Dana praises the athletic commissions for the job they are doing when it comes to fighters who are using testosterone. He’s always careful to make sure to emphasize that it’s legal.

As more fighters get outed over their testosterone usage and the public starts to learn what we knew all along about the enablers in this business who have let the drug climate get out of control, the more the media, potential sponsors, and sports fans who could potentially become MMA supporters start to take a second look at MMA and say, ‘no thanks.’

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 41 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

41 Responses to “A real crisis: The testosterone HOF grows for UFC”

  1. david m says:

    Wasn’t Matt Hughes outed as a T user as well?

    • fd2 says:

      Oliver Copp stated that he was, Hughes has denied taking anything in interviews and as far as I’m aware there’s never been any kind of other corroboration.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    It is amazing how many fighters have low testosterone problems. You would think with how manly they are, they would be producing the stuff in droves.

    TRT guys really fall into 2 categories for the most part.

    1) Guys who were likely past users who now need TRT to get their systems working at normal levels.

    2) Guys fighting far beyond their prime and need it to still compete.

    Both have no business in MMA.

  3. Nicholard says:

    You have Overeem in the Testosterone Hall of Fame. He never used the Testosterone for TRT.

    So if you’re gonna put him in that list, why not put everyone else who’s tested positive for Testosterone? Example Leben, who tested positive for Stanozolol.

    P.S. I love that your anti-spam word is “juiced”.

  4. Megatherium says:

    Shame for Diaz that there is no therapeutic exemption for marijuana. Must be because it’s not a performance enhancer I guess.

  5. edub says:

    Kampman sends the hype train back to earth.

    Condit-Kampman 2 for the Interim Title!!!! Give Hendricks MacDonald or somebody else on a decent streak.

  6. Marilyn1965 says:

    This is where I get irked. Blame the UFC for Everything. The UFC has to fix everything. Did it occur to you that many of these guys caused their own problems before they ever made it to the UFC? Oh and by the way, there are plenty of MMA promotions out there besides UFC. Your Focus is too near-sighted. Golden Glory overlooked it. M1 Global overlooked it. One FC, Bamma, K1, SFL etc… will all sit quietly back and let you blame Zuffa.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Our animosity towards the current administrations in the various AC’s is always well-publicized.

      Ben Askren said he’s only been drug tested twice during Bellator title defenses. He’s a guy who wants better testing.

      The testing protocols for drug usage in all of MMA is abhorrently bad, there’s no dispute on this.

      The reason UFC gets the heat is because they are the major promotion, the big circus in the world. Many of their big names under their umbrella have failed drug tests and/or are named as guys asking for a TUE for testosterone. Not every fighter, mind you, but certainly enough big names to raise the alarm warnings.

      [Did it occur to you that many of these guys caused their own problems before they ever made it to the UFC?]

      Yes, and I’ve argued that no fighter should get an exemption for testosterone based on bad choices they made outside of the UFC (e.g. anabolic steroid usage).

  7. SmackyBear says:

    I believe the doctor the NSAC consulted with to confirm Sonnen’s hypogonadism was an orthopedic surgeon. I’m assuming they used him for Mir, too.

    I’m sure he’s a fine man and a great surgeon. But he’s not an endocrinologist.

    The writer of MMAJunkie’s medical beat, Dr. Johnny Benjamin, is a great orthopedic surgeon too and someone I like. But his “expertise” on the finer points of this issue has been laughable. I don’t have any reason to assume the NSAC consultant is any better.

    There are plenty of cases where a regulatory body should consult with an orthopedist. But consulting an orthopedic surgeon on an endocrine issue is just as stupid as asking an endocrinologist to preform knee surgery.

    • Marilyn1965 says:

      SmackyBear has a point. These Athletic Commission take big fees from MMA Promotions to govern the sport. Are they cheaping their way out, by getting unqualified medical advice? Why should a promotion have to pay extra for extra testing when they are already paying the Commissions to do it. Any in house testing would be doubted as legitimate by the general public anyway.

      • SmackyBear says:

        In a way, it’s not just the fault of the athletic commissions. They are woefully under equipped by local governments.

        The NSAC is considered the gold standard in ACs. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king it would seem.

        But the NSAC has four full time employees and an annual budget of about $700,000. It’s not exactly a big operation, even though they’re in charge of the epicenter of combat sports in the U.S. The commission members are political appointees who have full time jobs in other areas and barely meet. When they do, I think they get paid $80 for the day. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re a CEO or a top lawyer, it probably doesn’t make you give all the effort you should.

        They don’t keep money they generate with ticket fees and the like and use it for the sport, they send it to the state government’s general fund. One year, they lost funding for their out of competition testing.

        I’m not saying they all their failures should be excused, but people should recognize that they’re just not up for the job. The government (despite Zach not liking the connotations of that correct classification) took it upon themselves to do this, but they suck at it and they’re never going to be able to do it. Especially since they’re seen as revenue generators by the legislatures.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          When someone says ‘the government’ is after you for taxes, everyone understands it’s the IRS (the Feds).

          ‘The Government’ is a cheap euphemism by Dana to portray as if the Feds are regulating UFC, not a state. Furthermore, who is regulating the UFC on shows where there is no regulatory body? They are themselves.

        • SmackyBear says:

          To Zach Arnold:

          And yet if I get a parking ticket and say “the government is a bunch of greedy SOBs,” everyone understands I mean a state government or local subdivision, assuming I’m not in DC.

          Calling a government a government is not a euphemism.

          I agree the government can only regulate where it has jurisdiction.

  8. Marilyn1965 says:

    Nathan Quarry ?@NateRockQuarry

    @venomousmma That’s just ignorance. The UFC’s job is to put on the best fights they can. That’s it. Anything else is above and beyond.
    View conversation



    @NateRockQuarry I know and its wrong, but if you read most of the opinion pieces today… its blame the UFC Fest.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      That’s laughable. A few weeks ago, he was against TRT when he was talking on Spike.

      Now he’s using the ‘it’s the UFC’s job to put on the best fights they can’ line’ to defend TRT usage?

  9. Jason Harris says:

    So what, specifically should be done about this crisis?

    Which organization should pick up the flag, label every fighter who’s on TRT a cheater and ban them from the sport?

    Whenever I’ve pushed the issue you soften on the idea of banning the entire concept of a TUE, but then you grab the pitchforks and torches for articles like this.

    You think UFC needs to ban all of these guys from the sport entirely because they’re all obviously steroid abusers and cheaters?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      The solution is rather simple — the promotion should come out and say they won’t book guys in fights as long as they are using testosterone, no matter if an AC is giving a hall pass for T or not.

      Instead, UFC has embraced the AC’s giving out hall passes for T and let Rampage fight on T at the Japan show. It’s crazy.

      • mma_messiah says:

        Not familiar with US descrimination laws, but would that be grounds for a lawsuit?

        Can’t imagine not hiring someone because of a medical condition is legal.

        • edub says:

          Every other sport in the US outside of boxing and MMA (+ the Olympics) seem to be able to get away with it.

        • fd2 says:

          “Every other sport in the US outside of boxing and MMA (+ the Olympics) seem to be able to get away with it.”

          ” Other contact sports have also seen the phenomenon. NFL senior vice president of public relations Greg Aiello told MMA Fighting that “about half a dozen” TRT TUE’s have been granted in the history of the program, going back to 1990. The NHL also confirmed that they grant exemptions for TRT, though they would not release specific numbers on their program. ”

          Not every other sport, it would appear.

        • edub says:

          First time I’ve seen it. Thank you for proving me wrong, and posting that.

        • fd says:

          Yeah, it’s not something that gets reported a lot. For all that we bewail the state of investigative journalism in mma, most other sports aren’t much better.

          In addition I’m not sure about TRT, but MLB has something like over a hundred TUE’s for “ADHD” so the players can take legal amphetamines.

        • edub says:

          Wow, that’s nuts. Especially, because during the steroid fiasco a lot of baseball was complaining about how that was the real problem.

      • Jason Harris says:

        So to be clear, you are backing off of your stance that TRT ever has any valid medical use, are declaring all of these people cheaters and calling for them to be banned from the sport?

        It’s consistent with your constant pitchfork shaking on this topic, but I recall you stating before that there could be some legitimate use cases.

        What research can you share with us that has helped you determine that Testosterone as used in TRT is either harmful to the user or dangerous to their competition? Or are you just assuming this because Testosterone == steroids == bad?

  10. EJ says:

    \”As more fighters get outed over their testosterone usage and the public starts to learn what we knew all along about the enablers in this business who have let the drug climate get out of control, the more the media, potential sponsors, and sports fans who could potentially become MMA supporters start to take a second look at MMA and say, ‘no thanks\’.\”

    The only thing most fans are saying to no thanks to is this over the top response to TRT. Seriously this was the same argument baseball writers were making and in the end the fans spoke loud and clear that they don\’t care about PED\’s.

    And continuing to blame the UFC instead of the people who run the testing in the first place again just shows how off the mark you are Zach. The fact is the same people who are outraged over Sonnen being allowed to \”cheat\” against Silva. Will be the same one\’s will turn a blind eye if Silva is outed as using it too, the hardcores love to pick and choose their outrage but they\’re actually the biggest hypocrites of them all.

  11. klown says:

    EJ comments on FO ==> zzzzzzzz

    • EJ says:

      Yet they somehow have managed to get me several fanboys in the process, funny how that works.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Trolling people so hard they turn green at your insipid postings is hardly you managing to get fanboys…

  12. Weezy02 says:

    To play devil’s advocate:
    There have been well over 250 fighters compete in UFC bouts thus far in 2012. All have done so under the supervision of the local athletic commission (assuming there was one in the state/province in which the event was held). The number of fighters with a Therapeutic Use Exemption (T.U.E.) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy that have competed in a UFC sanctioned bout so far this year is 1 (Frank Mir). Now, there have been others that are seeking to secure a therapeutic use exemption but as far as I can tell there is only one thus far in 2012 that competed in a UFC bout. So, if only 2% of the general male population in the peak age range need testosterone replacement, then MMA seems to actually have a lower population. Of athletes competing in the UFC (the sport’s flagship) this year, well under 1% of them have done so with a Therapeutic Use Exemption for Testosterone Replacement Therapy. See complete event listing below:
    UFC on FX: 20 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC 142: 20 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC on FOX 2: 20 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC 143: 20 fighters (No TUEs; 1 positive test for THC metabolites)
    UFC on FUEL 1: 18 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC 144: 24 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests) *Jackson admitted using TRT
    UFC on FX 2: 22 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC on FUEL 2: 24 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC 145: 24 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC on FOX 3: 24 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC on FUEL 3: 24 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)
    UFC 146: 24 fighters (1 TUE (fighter lost); No positive tests)
    TUF Finale: 20 fighters (No TUEs; No positive tests)

    • Jason Harris says:

      Thank you for doing the research in the comments that should be done in the article. Tells you a lot about this ‘epidemic’

      • The Gaijin says:

        I don’t think they’re necessarily required to nor disclose if a TUE has been issued. We had no idea Marquardt or Duffee or others used one until it was leaked out or from an interview, iirc. And the UFC isn’t really forthright with telling us on events they act as “commission” either.

        So this is flawed “research”.

        • Weezy02 says:

          My understanding is that Theraputic Use Exemptions are a matter of public record. For instance, minutes are kept of all state athletic commission official meetings. Such TUEs would be awarded via votes at official meetings of the Commission. Commission votes are a matter of public record and they will provide such information to media sources (see Greg Sirb’s interviews regarding Marquardt). Per Keith Kizer, Nevada has given out five for MMA ever (if I understood him correctly). They newly license tons of fighters every year. Many states, including mine, have never granted a TUE for MMA but sanction hundreds of bouts annually. Enhancements may well be a problem in all sports (I don’t disagree with that) but Theraputic Use Exemption are a rarity in relation to the aggregate number of licensed participants. That is simply a fact.

  13. Weezy02 says:

    I could be wrong on the just one. Wasn’t sure if Sonnen had one before this month. Still, I still show less than 1% on the year. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. I’m trying to get an accurate gauge of where this issue stands in terms of actively competing fighters in 2012.

  14. Roger That says:

    Well, Marquardt is off TRT it seems.

  15. […] we last touched on the topic on June 1st when we talked about the Testosterone Hall of Fame, we’ve had Rich Franklin go wishy-washy in public about consideration of TRT usage. Larry […]

  16. […] 4:1 T/E for competing fighters. In addition to it’s 6:1 T/E ratio, Nevada for a time granted Therapuetic Use Exemptions (TUEs) for MMA fighters claiming to need Testosterone Replacement Therapy…during the “Low-T” boom of the last five […]

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