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Vitor’s vexing conundrum on using testosterone (or not) in Nevada

By Zach Arnold | January 6, 2014

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Co-authored by Zach Arnold & Jon Mariani

He doesn’t deserve a Therapeutic Use Exemption to use testosterone (anabolic steroids) for his proposed fight against Chris Weidman on Memorial Day weekend or for UFC’s 4th of July event. But whatever the UFC wants, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will ensure that what’s best for business is taken care of.

It’s a good thing that Vegas thinks Chris Weidman is a 2-to-1 favorite to win that fight because he’s facing the poster child for all testosterone users in Mixed Martial Arts. You can thank the UFC for promoting testosterone-using fighters in key main event matches as the reason the floodgates have opened in combat sports for commission-approved anabolic steroid usage. You can call it TRT to make it sound harmless and innocuous. You can use the word testosterone and more people will understand its connotation. It’s when you use the term anabolic steroids that everyone understands what is really going on.

There’s a reason the testosterone plague in combat sports was named Sherdog’s Top Story of 2013. Fight Opinion was ahead of the curve on that story when few thought it was a major industry problem.

And no fighter draws the wrath of angry UFC fans when it comes to the testosterone issue more than Vitor Belfort. Unlike American fighters like Chael Sonnen who were within an inch of becoming the UFC’s first openly testosterone-using champion, Vitor Belfort will garner no endearment from the fans should he win the UFC Middleweight title and do so while using anabolic steroids. The fact that UFC seems unafraid to jump head-first into an anabolic steroids controversy of mass proportions by promoting a Belfort/Weidman fight reinforces the ugly UFC/Fox Sports steroid sports marriage.

Missing the home cooking

No longer is UFC hiding Vitor Belfort on Brazilian soil for big fights. His fight with Chris Weidman will be his first on American soil since the August 2011 fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama. While fighting outside the States, Belfort has been given permission to use testosterone by both the UFC (for the Jon Jones fight) and the Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA). In contrast, Belfort has not received any permission to use testosterone while fighting in an American state with an athletic commission. When Anderson Silva kicked Vitor Belfort onto another planet in Las Vegas, Belfort was fighting without a permission slip to use testosterone.

In March of 2013 NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer told Bleacher Report’s Damon Martin that “I don’t see Vitor Belfort getting a TRT exemption from us.” His reasoning was that Belfort had previously failed a drug test in 2006 for performance enhancing drugs. In a Brazilian media interview on Halloween 2013, Belfort revealed that he had been using testosterone for the past three years on the advice of his doctor.

The problem, of course, is that Belfort did not ask for permission to use testosterone for those American fights. The inadequacy of testing should be highlighted as a reason, if the facts presented in public are true, why he didn’t fail a drug test.

We have a generally good idea for the four main reasons fighters use testosterone in combat sports:

  1. Previous and/or current steroid usage
  2. Brain damage
  3. Abuse of pain killers (opiates)
  4. Damage from weight cutting

Belfort previously failed a steroid test, which qualifies him for the first strike. The second strike could definitely be damage from weight cutting. Remember, Vitor Belfort used to compete as a heavyweight. He once had to cut 30 pounds to make weight against Anderson Silva. The video of him aggressively chewing on ice during a tough weight cut is painful to watch and hard to forget. Belfort ended up hiring Mike Dolce to help manage his weight cuts for fights.

Life’s just not fair — and neither is using testosterone in MMA competition

When pressed publicly as to why he needs to use testosterone, Belfort struggles in coming up with a plausible explanation. It’s hard to believe that his need for testosterone is based on some random circumstance.

However, in the Halloween UOL media interview he did defending his testosterone usage, the word “injustice” was being thrown around in terms of him having to consider taking a fight while not using the magic T.

With UFC pushing to promote Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman, Keith Kizer is boxed in a corner. He’s on record stating that Belfort is unlikely to get permission to use testosterone. We know Belfort previously failed a drug test for steroids. We have Belfort’s alleged admission of unsanctioned testosterone usage while fighting in America. You can see where this is all heading.

Keith Kizer has taken a more… nuanced… approach to the situation now.

“Due to his past, Mr. Belfort would need to go before the Commission if he applies for a TRT TUE.”

So much for granting permission to use anabolic steroids as “unlikely.” Passing the buck.

Can Nevada be trusted to do the right thing here? Chael Sonnen is Keith Kizer’s adviser on testosterone-related matters. The UFC would not be openly promoting Vitor Belfort’s return to action in Nevada if they didn’t have their ducks in a row on making the fight happen. Keith Kizer owes his job security to individuals like Marc Ratner & Lorenzo Fertitta.

A couple of months ago, Vitor Belfort fought Dan Henderson in a double testosterone death match in Brazil. We know who won the fight. And the testosterone questions immediately were raised regarding Belfort facing the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II. There was great debate about whether or not Belfort would be allowed to use testosterone by Nevada’s commission in order to get the fight booked in Las Vegas.

Letting the mask slip

Give UFC credit. They’ve been wishy-washy and mealy-mouthed on the anabolic steroid issue. If Vitor Belfort defeats Chris Weidman, they will no longer be able to run away from the matter at hand. Fox Sports will no longer have media cover to ignore the giant elephant in the room. They have plenty of enemies who would love to twist the proverbial knife over an openly-admitting anabolic steroid user as a champion for a sports property that is the cornerstone of the Fox Sports 1 network. It’s time for UFC to take ownership of their pro-steroid stance.

The flip side, of course, is that Belfort would immediately become one of UFC’s most marketable fighters should he win the Middleweight title. A Barry Bonds-esque figure in which a borderline Hall of Fame talent becomes an other-worldly sports figure after dabbling into the bag of supplements.

Perhaps the UFC is confident that there is a plan to minimize the controversy. Perhaps the Nevada State Athletic Commission will refuse to grant Vitor Belfort permission to use testosterone. If Nevada denied Belfort’s request, that makes all the hall passes the UFC and CABMMA have given out look incredibly suspect.

You can stop laughing now.

The only way Vitor Belfort skips testosterone usage for the Chris Weidman fight is if he, as the magnanimous gentleman that he is, decides to not use testosterone while fighting in Nevada. Which, once again, opens up a new can of worms regarding his past fight performances while using testosterone. Such a position would be contrary to his comments in Brazil about how his testosterone usage doesn’t give him an unfair advantage and that taking away the testosterone would somehow be an injustice when other fighters aren’t criticized as harshly for using T.

Of course, Belfort could always take his chances and use testosterone without getting permission from Nevada’s commission. Which means passing those dastardly harsh Nevada State Athletic Commission drug tests. Sleep well, Chris.

Topics: Brazil, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

17 Responses to “Vitor’s vexing conundrum on using testosterone (or not) in Nevada”

  1. Brendan says:

    “Unlike American fighters like Chael Sonnen who were within an inch of becoming the UFC’s first openly testosterone-using champion,…”

    Chael wasn’t openly using when he fought Andy the 1st time. Even if he won, the win would have been thrown out, and he would never have been recognized as a UFC champion.

  2. Chris says:

    Let’s just say it right now. Vitor will have permission to use TRT for his fight with Weidman. Which means I will be the biggest Chris Weidman fan in the world that night.

  3. Daniel says:

    WOW. I noticed you (zach) didn’t reply to my original protest on your ana (cough) bolic (laugh) steroid crusade a couple of articles ago but if you didn’t read it I suggest you should.

    This time I’ll keep it short for you.

    Sport and drugs go hand in hand. Just because testosterone works doesn’t mean it should be deemed unnatural and their for banned.
    Are you going to try and tell me training is natural? Or learning a martial art is natural?
    Looking for a performance edge is what makes us human. Try telling cave man that he cannot fashion a spear or blade to catch food cause it’s cheating.
    As I said before, why don’t you go after some of the big boys, let’s say the FDA for letting supplement company’s market there products in such a way as to make you believe that what you buy at your local GNC is going to do what it says on the label? Fact is if it did half of what it says it’s going to do it would be deemed “performance enhancing” and called a steroid and be illegal.
    Almost all steroids can be classed as protein synthesizers which means they enable your body to process food more efficiently.
    You would think they are making people eat baby’s and cause nuclear holo cost the way your dribbling on about them.
    All pro sports use drugs to put on the best entertainment that’s possible. Even most competitive amateur sports have drug culture just so the individual can be the best he can be.
    When fighters walk into the ring(did you like that one zack?) with no training, no notice of who their fighting, he’ll, no prior understanding that they are even going to fight themselves, then it maybe can be called natural. Everything after that can be seen as gaining an unnatural edge. You keep on the rhetoric about UFC propagating TRT or TUE or anabolic steroids when all you are doing is reinforcing the original propaganda the US government put out when it didn’t figure out these substances themselves.
    Classic example of the sheep becoming the sheep dog.
    Keep up the cause zach ( no actually don’t. Try doing some real journalism rather than gain notoriety but writing about HOT topics) it seems like you have plenty of followers with there heads in the sand.

  4. King Famous says:

    I’m still trying to work out how a caveman using a spear or a blade is cheating.

    • Daniel says:

      Do you have blades or spears growing out of your arms? If not then you have used what’s around you to gain a edge to feed your family. Fast forward a ten thousand years or so and it’s called cheating.
      That’s why you call yourself king famous and not king thought I suppose.

  5. Jason says:

    How come nobody is bitching about NFL players who are all jacked up on HGH and steroids. And don’t believe for a second just because they say they test for it, that it isn’t being using predominately by a majority of the players (I know players). If testosterone/steroids are so awesome, how come there have been many fighters who lost yet they tested positive for an anabolic substance. Listen I’m not stupid, are these fighters in a situation where they are true TRT candidates…no. But people getting prescribed test by doctors is becoming more and more common even among everyday people. I personally would like to see what the blood tests results are in order to determine how much “help” they are getting. If the dosages are low, then their test blood levels on a ng/dl basis should be in the normal range. If it is, then they have no advantage over anyone else who’s test is in the normal range.

    • edub says:

      Gay people are getting married, y’all.

      • rst says:

        I have nothing against it.
        Other then it mostly seems to be intended for harrasing Christian churches and not about being in love as they claim.

        They could have had the same legal rights as Christain marriage with a technical union or whatever its called and married themselves in a fabulous disco affair.
        But that wouldn’t be obnoxious enough or make a big enough scene.

    • Daniel says:

      Fact is it doesn’t make better fighters or fighters perform better the night of the bout( plenty of research to suggest it is an hinderance not a help to have high levels at fight time due to side affects of such drugs) what it does is allow said fighter to go through many months of grueling camps several times a year with out getting injured before the big night.

      • edub says:

        Plenty of research that higher testosterone levels are a hindrance in an athletic contest/competition. Wow. I never knew.

      • rst says:

        “Fact is it doesn’t make better fighters or fighters perform better the night of the bout…”

        Are you suggesting that he doesn’t need it? I agree. Although I suspect that he wouldn’t be nearly as violent and twitch responsive without it.

  6. rst says:

    What a joke. If you’re going to put guys whacked out of their minds on dope in there why not strap rooster knives to their ankles too. I’m sure that would be exciting.

    ufc isn’t a sport, its human cockfighting.

    • rst says:

      Isn’t this what they did to the gladiator fights in rome? Yeah it was always a fight to the death between slaves (such is life), but they put them in there evenly armored and armed against each other. Then was it caligula, after too much sun beat on his bald head and he started feeling dizzy who decided that it just wasn’t exciting enough as a fair fight, so he started putting one guy in there in his tubesocks against another guy in a suit or armor with a cross bow?

      Which I suppose just eventually culminated in Christians versus Lions. (Now there’s a PPV headliner for the new normal.)

  7. king famous says:

    Daniel how is a human surviving in the wild using the elements around him similar to a prize fighter juicing?

    I admire your wit, but last time I checked our ancient ancestors weren’t synthesizing chemicals in a laboratory to live day to day.

    • Daniel says:

      Cave man was doing very little of what we are doing today apart from talking eating and rooting. It’s just an analogy comparing different eons.
      Do you think our poor ancestor who didn’t have the skills to make said tools and their for stuck eating grubs and leaves with no woman while watching his skilled colleague taking down game and bringing in the ladies thought if was fair? He’ll no he thinks we should be using our hands cause it’s natural.
      I’m not saying that everyone should juice, just that people who want to use shouldn’t be dragged over the coals for doing something that LEGALLY allowed to do..
      The other thing I’m saying is that if you take protein createin anything that’s not normal food to help your cause then it’s the same as drugs except they work.
      Being human is not natural, we are the only animal who behaves the way we do. The way we use medicine the way we build our homes the way we transport ourselves every thing we do goes against nature. White man is the most unnatural thing on this planet and all this bullshit about steroids is just an excuses to be jealous. I don’t see why we can’t just let humans be humans. Getting all righteous over some hormones is plain dumb.

  8. rst says:

    Another thing about this trt that I’m hearing from a few places and just recently from Weidman is that once you get a TRT excuse you can basically just continue to abuse old fashioned steroids and then blame your bizarre mood swings and acid for blood on your completely legitimate, legal and necessary health therapy.

    And maybe even become a UFC champion.

    BTW: Why is it you can go in the cage gacked out on trt but not on pot?
    I dont think either should be legal, but why one and not the other.

    Artificially induced roid fury seems like as much of a pain killer doping agent as munchie medicine.

    • rst says:

      And as far as the argument that TRT doesn’t make a fighter capable of things that they aren’t already capable of sounds like saying that nitrous injection doesn’t make a car capable of things that a car doesn’t already do. It still moves forward when you press the gas and it doesn’t turn a car into a boat or airplane, but it does make a very real difference how a car does those same things.


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