Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next?

UFC “Can’t” Disclose Who Applied for Therapeutic Use Exemptions for TRT at UFC 152

Props: MMA Fan Made

By George Shunick

The UFC’s unofficial support for Testosterone Replacement Therapy may just have become more or less official. Because the Ontario Athletic Commission doesn’t engage in the pesky business of drug testing, responsibility falls to the UFC to do so. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and certainly the UFC’s own policies have caught fighters doping. But things are a little different now – fighters have a legal means of obtaining synthetic testosterone, the primary component of many anabolic steroids. The flipside of this is that they need to acquire a therapeutic use exemption in order to use TRT, which at least illuminates who is using the stuff to enhance their performance.

Or at least it would be illuminated if the UFC were to release the names of fighters who requested TUEs, which they are obligated to do when dealing with a commission that gives a damn about at the very least appearing to maintain some semblance of professionalism. Since Ontario’s athletic commission doesn’t happen to belong to that exclusive group, the UFC can not disclose if a fighter on the UFC 152 card has requested a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).” [Emphasis added.]

Of course, this is bullshit. The UFC is completely capable of disclosing that information. The UFC simply will not disclose if a fighter requests a TUE. Which is strange, given that Dana White seems to be such a fan of the practice. If TRT is “great,” “absolutely fair,” and “legal,” why bother with the secrecy? It appears to be a tacit admission that the process is, at best, ethically dubious. Which it is – it allows a select group of fighters who possess naturally lower levels of testosterone, possibly resulting from prior steroid use, to use synthetic testosterone during their training camps and daily lives so long as they bring their testosterone levels within normal limits by the time of their fights. Functionally, it’s the same thing as a steroid cycle.

The only positive about TRT is that it’s public. But for UFC 152, thanks to the incompetency of the Ontario Athletic Commission and the UFC’s suspect disclosure policies, it won’t be. You would think that if you had an aging fighter who has bulked up almost twenty pounds from his previous bout – while training with, among others, Alistair Overeem – and is fighting in the main event, you’d want to alleviate any suspicions among observers. But this is the UFC we’re talking about. They don’t handle suspicion; they dismiss it and anyone who bothers to express it.

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ctastrophe- September 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm
I never said cheating shouldn't be punished, I was just commenting on how the use of one particular medical treatment which has the potential for abuse is the ONLY medication discussed, neglecting the dozens of other medicines that can and are abused for performance enhancement. Insulin DOES have something in common with testosterone: It can be used to gain an edge over your competition. Bodybuilders use it all the time to assist in weight-cutting, and weight-cutting in MMA is a critical part of the game. No, insulin doesn't make you hit harder, but it helps you make weight more easily. I don't think that using a medication to maintain normal levels of testosterone is cheating, any more than using insulin to maintain normal levels of blood sugar is. Both medications can and are abused (as well as tons of others), but no other medication gets ANY attention - just testosterone. My question stands, and I've never had anyone who is anti-TRT give a good answer to it: What is the difference in athletic performance between a guy with 700ng/dL who produces it naturally, and a guy with 700ng/dL who needs to shove a needle in his thigh twice a week to maintain those levels?

"Also, you act as if there is some very precise scientific way to determine what someone's baseline testosterone level "should" be."

It's called the normal human range. If there wasn't a range of numbers where testosterone "should be" then how could anyone ever get diagnosed with abnormal testosterone levels? It's the same with blood pressure: There is no "one size fits all" score, but we know that 250/130 is dangerously high, don't we? And we know that most people "should" have BP around 120/80 - if it's different than that, then chances are something is wrong, especially if there are symptoms to go along with it.

We know approximately how much testosterone a typical male needs to function correctly, and for you to say that Chael's genetic code needs to be analyzed to see what his normal output should/would be were he not deficient is a complete non-sequitor. On the night Chael fought Anderson the first time his testosterone levels were within the normal range. To get performance enhancement from testosterone you need to have higher than normal testosterone levels. My point was that the only guy on TRT who made it onto the "Steroid Busts" article had testosterone levels that were within the normal limits.

We know the basic necessary levels of several things going on in our bodies that need a certain amount to function correctly (blood sugar, vitamin and mineral levels, hormones, blood-cell counts, etc. etc. etc.). If we had to know the exact optimum level that each particular person has to have then nobody would ever be able to get treatment for anything. There is a range that 99% of humanity falls within on most tests. With testosterone in particular, if you have below a certain level it is almost certain that you will feel like shit and your body won't be functioning correctly. Lab results, combined with symptoms, are how diagnoses are made.

"[P]erhaps you'd like to point us to some relevant medical literature"

Perhaps you should use google yourself. Why should I do your homework for you? I'll get you started though: Go to bloodyelbow; They did a whole article on TRT - it can be found with the search function - and it was pretty well done. Go to the NIH's website and search "male testosterone" and you will find a plethora of articles by the nation's premiere health and research organization. Or check out pubmed's library of clinical papers written on hypogonadism.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of potential causes of low T: Tumors (cancerous or not), severe or repeated head trauma, thyroid dysfunction, pituitary dysfunction, hypothalamus dysfunction, trauma to the testicles, testicular cancer, several different nutrient deficiencies, extreme and rapid weight-loss, exposure to other hormones that affect testosterone (e.g. estrogen), hormone imbalances, chronic opiate abuse, various troubles that occurred during the mother's pregnancy, childhood illnesses that affect maturity, having an extra chromosome (Klinefelter's Syndrome), bad genetic luck, and of course steroid abuse (which happens when guys do their post-cycle therapy wrong repeatedly) and MANY more causes. How's that for hand-waving? Only one of those causes is steroid abuse, and yet that seems to be the go-to accusation. I'm not going to go through and post sources for each and every one of those - a little bit of research will find all of that for you. If you spend 10 seconds on pubmed or the NIH's site, or even checking through the sources on the statements made on the Wiki page for hypogonadism, or taking some time to read about guys' experiences on TRT-Support-Group sites (where they post their history and labs), you would have more sources and information than you could ever want or need on the subject.

I don't know why Chael has low testosterone, or even if he needs TRT - I'm not his doctor and I haven't seen his blood-work. My point is that it was implied, in this article and elsewhere, that guys on TRT are MORE LIKELY to cheat in the off-season, and the only guy on the list of steroid busts who is on TRT was found to have normal levels of testosterone in his system. I don't understand why people think that having access to legal, tracked-by-doctors, testosterone makes them any more likely to be breaking the rules than any other fighter.

"The fact that TRT use seems to correlate heavily with a late-career resurgence in many fighters"

For a guy who wants sources so bad you'd figure you'd at the very least give an anecdotal example. The last three guys to get TRT exemptions were Forrest Griffin (barely beat Tito - nowhere near a resurgence), Frank Mir (how did that one turn out?), and Rampage (again, would you call his last fight a "resurgence"?).

"Human bodies weren't meant to be at physical peaks forever."

The human body is also "meant" to die from cancer - that doesn't make it good. Just because something is natural doesn't mean that that's the way it should be. Tell anyone who wears glasses because they've lost eyesight due to aging that their body isn't meant to still be able to have vision.

All TRT does (if done appropriately) is fix a problem with a person's body. They don't have enough testosterone to function normally so they use a medication abused by some to bring their levels up to normal (notice I said normal, not supra-normal). And to get on TRT you don't just have to have "below average" testosterone, you have to have "below range" testosterone. It's not 35-year-old guys with the levels of a 35 year-old, it's 35 year-olds with the levels of an 80 year-old. Being on TRT and keeping your testosterone levels at normal ranges won't keep you at your peak forever. Testosterone is ONE cog in a very complicated machine. All the other pit-falls of aging (slower reflexes, slower recovery time especially in-between rounds, loss of cardio, loss of vision, body not able to utilize nutrients as well) will NOT be fixed buy using synthetic testosterone to bring your levels to normal.

"...reap the benefits of "treatment" for ailments that have no clearly established medical cause"

What are you even talking about? Who has no clearly established medical cause? Site your source please.

"and then make piles of cash from their new-found abilities"

Bringing low levels of testosterone to normal doesn't give you super powers, and it's laughable that you think that allowing someone with a medical condition (low testosterone) to correct that medical condition gives them some "new abilities".

Just an aside: You do know that you could take any average person off the street and give them all the roids they can handle and that person WON'T become the next Anderson Silva, right? Performance ENHANCING drugs can only enhance what is there - no amount of steroids could make me the next Barry Bonds. Also, we are talking small amounts of testosterone with TRT. The average TRT patient injects between 100-200mg a week of testosterone (the same as the average amount produced in the testicles of normally functioning men). Guys who are cycling steroids for performance enhancement inject anywhere from 500mg (for someone brand-new to juicing) to well over 1 GRAM of testosterone a week, in addition to other PEDs.

Your heart is in the right place - I can tell you have genuine questions about this stuff, and that's a great place to start. I just don't think a dialogue between the two of us is going to be very productive because we just have different sets of information from which we pull our arguments. Hopefully you'll do some researching on this stuff, starting from the places I recommended.

But yeah, this discussion is going to be really pointless and take up too much of both our time while getting nowhere. So, I'll bow out. It's been fun. Feel free to get in the last word!
Ballentine- September 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm
+1 For an extra long post that I didnt read.
Pen Fifteen- September 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm
You make fair points, ctastrophe, but this notion that TRT users are singled out versus other kinds of cheaters relies on spurious logic. I guess unless we give equal attention to all forms of cheating we may as well not punish anyone? So if someone raped your sister, ah fuck it, I just saw some guy jaywalking! An absurd excuse. Insulin abuse has fuck-all to do with testosterone abuse.

Also, you act as if there is some very precise scientific way to determine what someone's baseline testosterone level "should" be. Do you think Chael's doctor has a analyzed his genetic code or some shit to see how many ngs of test his ideal self would make? Furthermore, I've never seen anything other than handwaving responses when prying for specifics on the "several" reasons a guy can end up with hypogonadism (perhaps you'd like to point us to some relevant medical literature on the topic to substantiate this assertion).

The fact that TRT use seems to correlate heavily with a late-career resurgence in many fighters ought to raise the suspicions of anyone who values a modicum of transparency and fairness in athletic competition. Human bodies weren't meant to be at physical peaks forever. If you don't care about the body's natural limitations, why not watch a couple of dump trucks ram into one another, or perhaps some other more slightly anthropomorphized version of mechanized physical combat.

This shit about the poor fighters being stigmatized for TRT use by a public mislead by those sloppy hacks at cage potato is lame. The point of journalism is to promote skepticism. If people want to reap the benefits of "treatment" for ailments that have no clearly established medical cause, and then make piles of cash from their new-found abilities, they ought to be prepared to have the skeptics up in their shit.
ctastrophe- September 23, 2012 at 12:21 am
Why do people think that having legal access to testosterone is some holy grail? Being on TRT doesn't give a fighter any more opportunity to cheat than the next guy. (Prescriptions are monitored - you know that right? The doc doesn't just hand you a blank script pad and say "have all the juice you want!") Since guys who have a TUE for TRT have their actual testosterone levels tested after a fight (something other fighters don't have to do) they have no more opportunity to cheat in the off-season than any other fighter.

"[TRT] allows a select group of use synthetic testosterone during their training camps and daily lives so long as they bring their testosterone levels within normal limits by the time of their fights"

And other fighters couldn’t be doing the same? Why only guys on TRT? Any fighter can do any PED they want in the off-season as long as they are clean come testing time; How is this any different for guys on TRT? And why focus so much on the "possible past steroid use" crap - implying that it's the biggest reason guys need TRT? There are several reasons a guy can end up with hypogonadism. That’s like saying that only prostitutes get STDs. Why not say “possible past repeated concussions”?

This site (CP) has done a timeline of MMA steroid busts; How many of those guys were on TRT? 1? Out of 36? And he was only busted for not disclosing it on his medical forms - Chael's testosterone levels were found to be within the normal range that night.

"You would think that if you had an aging fighter who has bulked up almost twenty pounds from his previous bout..."

You would think that if you had a writer for an MMA news-site that he would do a tiny bit of research and would know that fighters cut water weight for most weigh-ins, and weighing in 20lbs more than usual doesn't necessarily mean he put on muscle mass to do so as the writer implies. You would also think that a writer for an MMA news-site would remember that Vitor's last fight was against Anthony Johnson who missed weight by a lot and, because Dana knew there would be a multitude of people wondering what both fighters weighed on fight night, he filmed both Vitor and Anthony stepping on a scale a couple hours before the event took place. Vitor weighed in at 205.6lbs. If nothing else Vitor "lost" weight for this fight.

You bring up Overeem in an attempt to find guilt by association, so why not point the finger at Jones as well? Vitor, who has been training at the Blackzilians for about a month, is made suspicious because Overeem just got popped (which I don't see the link between that and TRT), but you make no mention of the fact that Shane Carwin and Nate Marquardt, who have both trained at Jackson's for years (and one of whom was actually on TRT) are part of the same camp Jon Jones, the other guy "fighting in the main event" trains out of. Why doesn't that make Jones equally suspicious?

"[W]hy bother with the secrecy?"

Patient confidentiality, maybe? Perhaps they don't want the stigma of being labeled a "cheater" by people who don't understand how TRT works? Maybe, since their testosterone levels have to be within normal human ranges anyway, it's nobody's damn business what medications that person takes?

Why does it matter if they release the names of those on TRT? Seriously, why? Why don't you care who is on Thyroid medications? Or who is diabetic (insulin/metformin is abused by many weight-cutters)? Or who needs contact lenses? Why didn't they disclose what multi-vitamin Jones was taking? What does knowing who is on TRT benefit anyone, aside from those who like to name-call and toss around accusations?

I don't understand why all the focus on one - out of literally dozens - of legal/helpful/necessary medications that, when abused, are performance enhancing. Maybe it's because most people only know the word "steroids" and are too lazy to learn anything about other methods athletes use to cheat, I don’t know.

If I were a professional fighter I would MUCH rather be using drugs that won’t make it even more difficult to make weight (Cris Santos anyone?) I’d be doing stuff like Clenbuterol (medication for asthmatics which ramps up metabolism, as does heavy doses of Albuterol - nobody demands a list of asthmatics) and Thyroid medications (ramps up metabolism and DESTROYS fat - again, nobody demands to know who is Hypothyroid). One of the hardest aspects of MMA is the weigh-in, and I would rather take stuff that lets me eat like a normal person and still lose a ton a weight while still having the energy to train my ass off, versus taking testosterone which will help me train harder and longer, but will also make it harder to lose weight and cause water-retention and I'd still have to starve myself. For some reason the public is fixated on testosterone when there are so many other easily-abused meds out there that serve a better purpose in MMA.
At the end of the day it comes down to this: What is the difference in athletic performance between a guy with 700ng/dL of testosterone that he produces naturally, and a guy with 700ng/dL of testosterone who has to shove a needle in his thigh twice a week to maintain those levels?

And before the flamers come at me: If you don't like long posts you're free to not read them. I like to actually discuss things when I think someone is wrong.

tl;dr Read what amsterdamheavy wrote.
Ballentine- September 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm
Its called the HIPAA Law.
El Guapo- September 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm
You ever requested a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy... ON WEEEED?
amsterdamheavy- September 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm
If you CP fucking rejects are going to do stories on TRT use, how about you educate yourselves on the subject?

There are so many things wrong with this article, it isnt even worth addressing.
holeeball- September 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm
LOL that bad huh! Not that I'd be genuinely surprised by it.
RearNakedSpoon- September 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm
I agree with random testing and a 5 year ban on anyone who gets caught for absolutely anything. So that just leaves everyone in the TUF house licensed to fight.

Oh no!!! Alcohol is a banned substance as well so random testing could catch those guys as well :(
holeeball- September 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm
OR apply truly random testing and ruin the career of whoever is caught red handed. Like 5 year ban.

OR keep doing as now - keep cycling and pray you're not caught.
holeeball- September 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm
Who gives a shit. Fighters who want it should all be shot up with T and whatever the fuck else they want to enhance their performance with. The more enhanced the fighter is the better entertainment he'll be able to provide.
Until GSP is impressed, keep enhancing.
eselockster- September 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm
I got my money on jonsie using trt just so it could fuel the hate even more bwahahahA
RearNakedSpoon- September 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm
"so long as they bring their testosterone levels within normal limits by the time of their fights."

If everyone took the time to understand these words then this topic would never get so much attention.
algiersheadkick504- September 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm
its matt hamil and prolly igor
Dizzylittlelord- September 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm
i was thinking belfort through the article, it makes sense, shit if he pisses hot and wins are the ufc even going to tell people