(Antonio’s shoe-size is “display only.” / Photo via instagram.com/bigfootsilva)
When Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva caught a nine-month suspension for elevated testosterone following his UFC Fight Night 33 battle against Mark Hunt, he claimed it wasn’t his fault — and we rolled our eyes. It’s hard to give the benefit of the doubt to a fighter who was previously suspended for a year due to a positive steroid test.
But Silva isn’t going quietly into his suspension. As he told MMAFighting’s Guilherme Cruz, Bigfoot plans to sue Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) medical director Dr. Marcio Tannure, who authorized the veteran heavyweight’s therapeutic usage exemption for TRT, and oversaw his therapy. And if you listen to Silva’s side of the story, he might actually have a case here.
A week before his fight in Australia, Silva received a report from Tannure stating that his testosterone levels were low, and he should continue taking injections on a weekly basis. It seems possible that Tannure was unaware of just how soon Silva’s fight was coming up — but nevertheless, Silva’s followed the doctor’s orders, and it wound up costing him a $50,000 bonus and nine months of his career.
“I just did what they told me to do,” Silva told MMAFighting.com. “I’d never do something different that what the doctor told me to. I looked for a doctor with a good reputation, and he’s the UFC’s doctor in Brazil. I knew I’d be tested before and after the fight. Unfortunately, now I have to find the legal ways to overturn this situation or at least prove I’m not guilty…
“I took a shot at the same day he sent me that e-mail, and he asked me if I had another one to take with me to Australia, to take on fight week,” he said. “He authorized everything. I did exactly as I was informed to do.
“You go get help with a doctor, you do the right thing, and now this story tarnishes my professional career,” he continued. “It tarnishes the great fight I did with Mark Hunt, and gave me a huge financial loss. The doctor knows that I cut weight, he knows how the body of a MMA fighter reacts. He should know at what level I would be with one shot. I felt like a lab rat. I did everything I was told to do and now I’m the cheater.”
To help build his defense, Silva plans to re-do his normal fight preparations under the supervision of different doctors:
“I’ll take the exact dosage I took, the exact timetable, and will get a doctor here in the U.S. and a doctor in Brazil to show to the fans that this is horrible for my career and the sport,” he said. “I want to prove that it was not my fault. When I have all the exams from both doctors, I want to sue (Dr. Tannure) for the moral and financial prejudice that he has caused me.”
Silva added that he’d like to continue undergoing TRT in the future as long as the UFC allows him to:
“I want to continue the treatment because it’s good for my personal life and my career as well. If you know what acromegaly is, you know what I have. My hormonal levels are not normal, my testosterone is too low, and I want to be on normal levels.
I thought about a thousand things since this all happened,” he continued. “I considered leaving the sport because of these unfair things, but I don’t give up that easily. I have to show that it was not my fault.”
It’s unfair that Silva could forever bear the mark of “cheater” just because a doctor got his timetable wrong. On the other hand, MMA fighters need to understand that when they inject synthetic testosterone into their bodies, they’re rolling the dice. As we mentioned yesterday, Silva was the sixth fighter to be busted for elevated testosterone in 2013, and that tally includes Ben Rothwell, who failed a drug test despite receiving a therapeutic usage exception for TRT and doing everything above-board.
In other words, TRT is still not an exact science, and unless you’re dealing with a very experienced endocrinologist, mistakes can be made. And if Bigfoot still decides to use TRT when he returns from suspension, the same thing could happen to him again. So, our lesson for today: Don’t get on TRT unless you really need it to function normally, and if you really need TRT to function normally, you might want to consider a line of work other than professional fighting.