(Well, this would explain Popeye’s bacne.)
In the wake of Alistair Overeem‘s tragically botched drug test, MMAJunkie.com medical columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin delved into those mysterious T:E ratios, and underscored the argument for year-round random testing. Here’s what the doc said:
Testosterone (T) is the naturally occurring male hormone produced primarily in the testes. Epitestosterone (E) is an inactive form of testosterone that may serve as a storage substance or precursor that gets converted to active T.
Most men have a ratio of T to E of 1:1, which means normal men have equal amounts of T and E in their blood. There is some normal ethnic and time of day variation in the normal T/E ratio (as low as 0.7:1 and as high as 1.3:1).
Statistics reveal that a ratio of up to 3.7:1 will capture 95 percent of all normal men, and a ratio of up to 5:1 will capture greater than 99 percent of all men. That’s why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows up to 4:1 (so its test is at least 95 percent accurate) and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the NCAA and some others allow up to 6:1 (for 99 percent accuracy). The whole goal is to not label someone a cheater when he or she isn’t. (Very, very rarely, some people are just freakishly high, but they have a ratio of less than 6:1).
Overeem, of course, had an eye-poppin’ 14:1 ratio.
T/E ratios are used in performance-enhancing-drug (PED) monitoring because taking an external (exogenous) source of T will not effect the E levels in the blood. E stays the same, but T climbs because of the injection, and the T/E ratio follows suit and climbs.
The half-life of injectable T is only eight days. So every eight days, half of the T you took is washed out of your blood. Therefore, if a cheater knows when he is likely to be tested (i.e. post-fight), he doesn’t need to be a genius to know when to stop taking (“cycle off”) to test lower than 6:1 or 4:1. Twenty-four days is three half-lives, and virtually none of the extra T is left in your system to get you busted.
T abuse is making a resurgence because of therapeutic-use exemptions (TUE for TRT). Also, it naturally occurs in men’s blood – unlike other anabolic steroids that at any level are unnatural (not made within the body) and must be masked in an attempt to beat the test. Cheaters don’t have to mask T, so they don’t worry about testing positive for a masking agent. They just need enough time for their bodies to get rid of it naturally.
If you don’t know when the test is coming, you cannot adequately plan or time when to stop taking a PED like T. This, of course, is the rationale for random testing.
For those of you who were stunned by Alistair Overeem‘s 14:1 result, keep in mind that former NFL player Johnnie Morton turned in a 83.9:1 T/E ratio after his knockout loss to Bernard Ackah at K-1 HERO’s Dynamite!! USA in June 2007.
Overeem has still yet to make a public statement about his failed drug test.