(Lea and MacDonald rolling at Toshido MMA prior to Rory’s UFC 115 bout with Carlos Condit.)
One of the most unfortunate occurrences to transpire in the wake of Saturday night’s UFC 129 show in Toronto (besides the publicized brawl that took place in the stands and was posted on YouTube) was the accusations of steroid use directed at one of the stars of the event.
Anonymous fans and keyboard warriors alike have taken to Internet forums and message boards to voice their opinion that because 21-year-old Canadian wunderkind Rory MacDonald put on some extra muscle since his last Octagon appearance more than ten months ago, because he demonstrated such explosive strength by executing a trio of third-round suplexes on opponent Nate Diaz, and because “The Waterboy” had an apparent increase in his amount of body and facial acne, it must have been a pharmaceutical grade testosterone advantage that helped him cruise to victory in the fight.
(The Internet police’s “Exhibit A” in their case against MacDonald. I’ve seen worse pimples on the backs of teenagers swimming at the YMCA)
Forget the fact that MacDonald moved to Montreal last year where he has trained several times a week with Georges St-Pierre’s acclaimed former strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Chaimberg while he was rehabbing a knee injury he sustained in his last bout. Forget the fact that MacDonald was a late bloomer who still looked like a boy fighting men until his late teens when a large growth spurt necessitated a move to welterweight for the King of the Cage world lightweight champion. Forget the fact that MacDonald spends the majority of his free time on the mats or in the cage drenched in sweat rolling and sparring with his teammates. Because he has acne and an increase and size and strength, he must be on something.
We spoke Tuesday with MacDonald’s longtime mentor and trainer David Lea who Rory began training with seven years ago at Toshido Mixed Martial Arts in Kelowna, British Columbia when he was just 14 years old and we asked him to comment on the finger-pointing that has marred his fighter’s breakthrough performance last weekend. Lea, who says such unsubstantiated accusations are nothing new as they have been dealing with similar virtiolic disparaging remarks since MacDonald began competing and blowing through much older and more experienced opponents at the age of 16, shakes his head at the latest round of meritless claims.
“That’s really a rumor?” Lea asked with an incredulous laugh. “That’s pathetic. Rory has had acne issues since he first came into my club at age 14, as do many teenagers and young adults. Rory eats perfectly, trains like a beast and doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. The last thing he would do is steroids. Why would he? He already has the testosterone levels of a super athletic 21-year-old, for f*ck sakes.”
We chose not to speak with MacDonald, as we didn’t want to interrupt the jubilant high he’s undoubtedly still on from his big win by having him acknowledge and legitimize the baseless accusations against him. The sad reality is that his words would do little to help silence the rumor-mongers grasping for an explanation of how a young talented athlete who works hard in the gym and the weight room and has a massive amount of natural ability could perform as well as he did against a seasoned Octagon veteran like Diaz. Just ask Tiger Woods, Sidney Crosby, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tony Hawk what its like being constantly accused of PED use.
During an appearance on last week’s episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show, MacDonald touched on the number of online critics that has grown exponentially along with his fan base as a result of his increasing popularity and success.
“It’s [been] a little bit of an eye opener. People change the way they talk to you, what they think about you and what they say about you when you get a little bit of popularity. You always have people that really support you and there’s going to be people that don’t like what you’re doing,” MacDonald explained. “There’s good and there’s bad; either way, I don’t really care. I’m just doing my own thing. I’ve never really cared what people have to say about me or what I’m doing. I’ve got my own goals and I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’m living my dream, so it doesn’t really matter.”
With these most recent charges against him, it’s unlikely that MacDonald’s justifiably jaded perception of the type of BS that goes hand-and-hand with being a sports star will change any time soon, which is unfortunate considering he should be on top of the world thanks to the masterful, potentially career-changing performance he put on in Toronto.