Sheesh, Randy and Chuck have really been hitting the Centrum Silver since they retired, huh?
Ever since the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed in 1994, athletes have been aware that there may be more than just protein in the tubs of powder and bottles of pills found in their local grocery stores. The supplement industry isn’t exactly known for its history of ethical practices, and the deregulation of it has unsurprisingly caused manufacturers to push the limits of what can be snuck into their products. It’s widely been accepted that any supplement one purchases — be it the pre-workout stimulant that a personal trainer recommended or the “hardcore” testosterone booster that the local meathead swears is responsible for his 300+ pound frame — can result in a failed drug test, and that any athlete who uses supplements does so at his or her own risk.
Yet if you’ve followed this sport — or any sport, for that matter — for at least one week, you’re already sick of what’s been dubbed The Tainted Supplements Defense. You know the story by heart, and can recite it word-for-word before the athlete even issues a statement on the failed test: An athlete gets busted with a banned substance in his or her system, claims that an over-the-counter product is responsible for the failed drug test, swears that he or she would never resort to taking steroids, wishes that he or she never took the supplements before the fight and promises that it will never happen again. It’s just likely enough to be true, yet just unfalsifiable enough for a reasonable fan to reject.
Which is just one of many reasons why I am cordially inviting anyone blaming a failed drug test on an over-the-counter supplement to fucking stop doing so from this point forward. No matter what variation of the excuse you’re using, your excuse is bad, and you should feel bad. Let’s start off with the most popular variation:
“My supplements must have been tainted!” – The tried-and-true tainted supplements defense is by far the most unfalsifiable, yet least improbable option of the group. With roughly eighteen percent of bodybuilding supplements estimated to be tainted, it makes sense that a fighter might unknowingly purchase tainted supplements that cause them to piss hot for the steroids that MMA fighters are known to take. You know what also makes sense? That maybe, just maybe, the guy found with Winstrol in his system has been using Winstrol.
It’s like Slate recently published: “If I were a doper, I’d be sure to have a medicine cabinet full of supplements — ones that claim to produce the same results as my drugs. Then, if I ever tested positive for doping, I’d have a plausible excuse.” The MMA community is a pretty cynical group of people who won’t believe anyone using such a convenient defense. With all of the trainers, nutritionists, fellow fighters, doctors; etc. that professional fighters interact with on a daily basis, are you really expecting us to believe that not one of them warned you about what you’re putting into your body, or what supplements have caused innocent fighters to fail drug tests before?
“I had no idea this over-the counter-product could cause me to fail a drug test!” – Really? Because pretty much every busted athlete fucking ever has only been using over-the-counter products, so I imagine that you’ve at least heard that this could happen. But I digress.
It’s funny that whenever someone blames an over-the-counter supplement for a failed drug test, you almost never hear what supplement is being blamed. The only exception I can think of off the top of my head is King Mo’s admission to taking S-Mass — a supplement that was pulled from the shelves five years before he got caught taking it due to an FDA ban. On one hand, I applaud King Mo for actually telling us what he took instead of completely dodging the question. On the other hand, bro, you can’t possibly be serious.
The thing about designer steroids is that pretty much all of them say right on the fucking bottle that they’ll cause you to fail a drug test. So that whole ”being responsible for what goes into your body” thing? Yeah, it’s about ten-times more applicable when all you have to do is know how to read in order to avoid taking a banned substance.
And for the supplements that don’t explicitly warn you that they contain banned ingredients? Allow me to introduce a 20-Word Checklist for Knowing if You Should Take a Supplement: Read the ingredients. Do you feel you need a chemistry degree to understand them? Google the ingredients before purchasing it.
Yeah, I know: It’s totally unfair that the person making a living off of his or her athleticism is expected to know about what goes into his or her body. Just like how it’s totally unfair that I’m expected to write in complete sentences and spell words correctly. Deal with it.
“I had no idea what I was taking!” – This one is usually heard in combination with one of the above defenses, but it’s preposterous enough to merit its own ban. For starters, taking pills without knowing what they do is a serious sign that you have a drug problem, so, you know, there’s that. Also, your own boss has called bullshit on this excuse, so there’s absolutely no reason for anyone else to buy it.
The bottom line is that no matter what variation of the over-the-counter supplement excuse you use, it’s extremely weak at best and downright bullshit at worst. Save everyone the time, admit you screwed up and let’s move on. Who knows, fans might even forgive you for doing so.