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Tag: painkillers

MMA’s Catch-22 Drug Trap: Why So Many Fighters Fall Into Addiction


(MMA competition can provide the stability necessary for a person to beat addiction. It can also create the physical and emotional chaos that leads to drugs in the first place.)

By Santino DeFranco

For months I’ve wanted to get started on an article discussing drug use among MMA athletes, but just haven’t gotten my fingers to the keyboard. For some reason, after seeing Dennis Siver’s positive test for HCG recently — probably the least worrisome drug I’ve ever seen someone test positive for — I’ve decided to get going with it.

In addition to the positive tests for performance enhancing substances that we’ve seen dozens of times in this sport, there has been an alarming number of positive drug tests for recreational and prescription drugs as well. We’ve also seen countless fighters wage personal battles with substance abuse outside of the ring/cage, with several ending in death — accidental as well as suicide. It’s the recreational drugs and prescription painkillers that have caught my attention as something that may need to be addressed.

After seeing so many fighters struggle with drug abuse over the years like Joe Riggs, Drew Fickett, Karo Parisyan, along with those that have passed away from drug-related circumstances like Shane Del Rosario and Shelby Walker, I started to wonder: Is MMA leading athletes to become addicted to drugs, or are people who are more prone to drug use entering the world of mixed martial arts?

What I found out is that the answer to both previous questions is yes. Those more prone to use drugs do enter MMA, and MMA in return, leads those to use drugs and subsequently become addicted to them. It’s a hell of a lot more complex than that, but simply put, MMA fighters, as well as boxers, are kind of screwed.

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Does the UFC Need to Pay for Athlete Rehab Like the WWE?


(Photo via Getty)

Chris Leben posted a tweet earlier today that jolted an MMA world still asleep in post-UFN 36 lull:

Any sentiment related to the UFC and how they take care of their fighters (whether it’s about pay, insurance, or what have you) is bound to be controversial. Leben’s tweet suggesting the UFC discards their fighters once they’ve outlived their usefulness and leaves them as empty, “broken” husks was no exception. A firestorm erupted on twitter and other Internet locales, with many fans insulting Leben and bashing the TUF Season 1 veteran. Their argument: Leben made more money than me, so fuck him. His drug issues are not my problem. Harsh words for a man who risked his mind and body to entertain so many.

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CagePotato Presents: The James Irvin ‘Why Me?’ Timeline [INFOGRAPHIC]

In addition to being one of the least decision-prone fighters to ever grace the OctagonJames Irvin is also notorious for being the unluckiest bastard in the history of the sport. From poorly-timed injuries and ill-advised weight cuts to chemical misadventures and freak accidents, the Sandman has suffered through enough hardships to fill the careers of ten journeymen. So with the help of our friends at Havoc Store, we put together an illustrated timeline of the most unfortunate moments in Irvin’s MMA career, which you can check out after the jump.

Enjoy, share it with your friends, and show some love to Havoc Store by visiting their blog or following them on Facebook. And James? You have our sympathy, dude.

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Chris Leben Calls His UFC 138 Painkiller Bust a ‘Cry for Help,’ Hopes for a Late 2012 Return


(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

Following career setbacks due to alcohol and steroids, a one-year suspension due to unapproved painkillers was the last thing that Chris Leben needed in his life. But in a recent appearance on MMAFighting.com’s The MMA Hour, Leben spoke publicly for the first time since the incident last November, saying that getting caught following his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 was the best thing to ever happen to him:

I’ve battled drugs and alcohol. I’ve battled with those for my entire life. I’ve had an issue with being addicted to painkillers for years now. I had some issues with my camp and it was almost a cry for help. I knew I was going to get caught and I just didn’t care at the time. I’m extremely embarrassed, I feel like I let down the UFC, but at the same time I think getting caught is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. The UFC has been unbelievable, they sent me to a rehab facility and they really took care of me.”

As Leben tells it, he had hoped to go cold-turkey off the painkillers before the fight, but his addiction was too powerful:

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Dead MMA Fighter of the Month: Justin Levens


(Photo via the Justin Levens Remembrance Album on CombatLifestyle.com / Props to Deadspin‘s brilliant “Dead Wrestler of the Week” feature for the inspiration.)

By Ben Goldstein

All murder-suicides are shocking. Not all of them are entirely surprising.

On December 17th, 2008, UFC/WEC veteran Justin Levens and his wife Sara McLean-Levens were found dead inside their condominium in Laguna Niguel, California, both from gunshot wounds. Initial evidence suggested that Justin was the shooter. “It was a chest wound that penetrated her heart and killed her, and his was to the head,” said O. C. Sheriff Coroner’s Office spokesman Jim Amormino.

Amormino confirmed that painkillers and anti-depressants were discovered in the Levens’s home, along with the handgun Justin allegedly used to end their lives. Police had visited Justin and Sara at least twice in the previous month, once to investigate a possible drug overdose.

At the time of his death, Justin Levens was 28 years old and hadn’t won an MMA match in over two years. He’d gone 0-5 in 2007 — an agonizing year in which his close friend and IFL teammate Jeremy Williams committed suicide, also by shooting himself — and was dealt a six-month suspension by the California State Athletic Commission in July 2008 when a pre-fight drug test came back off-the-charts for the painkiller Oxymorphone. For the last five months of his life, Levens was unable to earn a living as a fighter, and fell deeper into a spiral of depression and prescription drug use.

Justin didn’t leave a suicide note. There were no signs of a struggle. He and Sara had already been dead for four days when their bodies were discovered.

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Chris Leben Tests Positive for Pair of Painkillers in Post UFC 138 Drug Tests, Suspended for a Year by UFC


(Leben might need to pray that MMA fans and the UFC don’t turn their backs on him in the next year while he serves his latest suspension. Ask Karo Parisyan.)

Anyone who says that the UFC isn’t policing its own athletes when it comes to drug use needs to talk to Chris Leben.

The troubled UFC middleweight, who blamed a massive weight cut on his sluggish performance, tested positive for Oxymorphone and Oxycodone in tests administered by the promotion following his UFC 138 loss on November 5 to Mark Munoz. As a result, he has been suspended by Zuffa for a year.

For those keeping track, this is the second time “The Crippler” has been popped for pissing dirty by the UFC. The first time was after his UFC 89 decision loss to Michael back in October 2008 when he tested positive for Stanozolol. Between these incidents, he also got picked up for DUI for the second time in October 2010, which clearly reveals a pattern of someone who needs help for a substance abuse problem or someone who really needs a hobby during the winter months.

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Quick Quote of the Day: Silva Says He Was Injured Heading Into UFC 134 Bout With Okami


(“Can’t….stop….giggling.”)

According to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, he injured his shoulder while sparring with Junior dos Santos prior to his UFC 134 bout with Yushin Okami and was put on painkillers for the injury. Silva revealed to the Brazilian magazine Veja that he was in pain the day of the bout and that he took some painkillers to ensure he could fight, but says that unlike guys like Bas Rutten and Karo Parisyan who failed to reveal their use of analgesics to their respective athletic commissions prior to bouts, he did tell the group in charge of overseeing the event that he took the unnamed drug prior to the bout.

“A month before the fight I injured my shoulder while training with Junior dos Santos and I was feeling a lot of pain in Rio. I had to take some medicine and warn the athletic commission about it. I’ve talked to my doctors. I had an MRI and then I started feeling pains in my shoulder but the doctors let me go and said it was not that serious,” Silva says. “It’s a small injury, but I guess it’s on the [rotator] cuff and bothers me. I’ll rest for a while and get healed.”

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Painkiller Dependency Spurred Karo Parisyan’s Latest Fight Withdrawal


(Melanson and Parisyan, before it all fell apart. Props: elitefts.com)

In a new interview with Five Ounces of Pain, Karo Parisyan’s longtime friend and training partner Neil Melanson confirmed that Parisyan’s latest last-minute fight-cancellation was directly related to the painkiller addiction that has haunted him for years. After Melanson got permission from Karo to go public with the story, he laid it all out:

“Karo’s had some problems with an addiction to pain medicine due to an injury he sustained a few years ago. Then when he started having these anxiety problems, it didn’t seem like the anxiety pills were helping him. The only thing that was helping him was the pain medication that he had been taking for his injuries. That’s when he just started down that slope. It’s just one of those situations where you have two guys that sit down to have a drink, and you have one guy that can go home and he’s fine, and the other guy has to go out and get wasted every single time because he’s an alcoholic. I think that maybe with the pills, that Karo is the second guy. Maybe he’s the guy that can’t take them here and there, or can’t use them effectively…
 
He told me that he was on pain medicine, but he wanted to get off. He had a plan and he was working his way to get off of it. About a month ago he was taking about half the amount that he usually does and he was pretty optimistic. He was really trying to push it. He was going through some withdrawals and he would try to push it as hard as he could to get off the stuff. He really had a plan to be off three weeks prior to the fight and he really wanted to clean up. He really wanted to do this right. It was really important to him and his family. I hadn’t spoken to him for just a little bit, and I guess he tried, but he couldn’t.
 
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Bet on Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 94? You’re Still Screwed


(You guys know this thing doesn’t even count, right?)

When the Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled yesterday to change Karo Parisyan’s decision win over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 94 into a “no decision” on account of the various painkillers running through Parisyan’s veins at the time of the fight, I wondered the same thing I always wonder: how does this affect me?

As you may recall, I put a bet down on Kim when I was going crazy in Vegas the day before UFC 94.  I lost and was forced to dance for nickels under a bridge just to get enough money to make it home.  But with the bout result changed, did the MGM Grand now owe me my money back?  Were they also on the hook for the price of the tetanus shot I had to get when I got home (those nickels aren’t clean, no matter what anyone tells you)?  

I didn’t know, so I called the MGM Grand.  Turns out, they didn’t really know either.  After a lengthy back and forth, they gave up and told me to call the sportsbook at the Mirage, whose policies the MGM Grand follows on this sort of thing.  So I did.  I called the Mirage and got transferred around a bunch.  I got told several different times that the sportsbook didn’t take calls, but my question confused enough people, and eventually they put me through to the sportsbook, where my hopes were immediately shot down.

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Karo Parisyan Suspended, Fined, Stripped of Last Win, and Told “Good Day” by NSAC

Karo Parisyan UFC 94 MMA Dong Hyun Kim Josh Rosenthal
(Parisyan was also "strongly encouraged" to get an eyebrow-wax. Photo courtesy of UFC.com.)

It seems like our earlier post on today’s Penn/St. Pierre NSAC hearing contained a bit of foreshadowing. Yes, fights in Nevada can be overturned if one of the fighters was using banned substances, and Karo Parisyan just learned that the hard way. "The Heat" was busted last month after testing positive for three different painkillers following his three-round snoozer with Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 94. Well, the verdict has finally come down, and Parisyan has been nailed with a nine-month suspension, a $32,000 fine (40% of his total purse), and the official voiding of his split-decision victory against Kim. That fight will now be known as a "no decision," which means that Kim is still technically undefeated. As Sherdog reports:

Parisyan, who was not represented by legal counsel at the hearing, pleaded for leniency before the commission after he admitted his guilt. “This is my only form of income,” Parisyan said. “If I don’t fight, I’m nothing. I’m very, very sorry. It was completely unintentional. This is embarrassing for me.” …
 
Commissioner John Bailey reacted sternly to Parisyan, both for his use of pain pills that had not been prescribed and his failure to disclose use on the questionnaire. “[The commission has] to know what’s going on with you,” Bailey said. “You just decided to not be truthful on a pre-fight questionnaire. We can’t have fighters drifting in and out of reality."
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