As confusion surrounds the possible scenarios that could take place next week at Alistair Overeem’s hearing, we wait in growing anticipation to learn his explanation.
Since his testosterone to epitestosterone (T:E) ratio was found to be 14 times that of the average man, he must present an excuse to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain such a high result.
According to his manager, Glen Robinson, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for his ratio being so out of proportion. He told Inside MMA’s Ron Kruck that although Overeem’s T:E ratio was “off,” his testosterone level was not high.
Until this point, media sources have speculated that for his ratio to be so abnormal, his testosterone must be significantly higher than allowed.
His massive physique and the missed urine test last December have led many to believe he will claim to be utilizing Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and simply hasn’t reported it yet.
TRT is now widely believed to be a loophole in the system that athletes use to excessively raise their testosterone levels during training and lower them before the predetermined urine exam.
But these statements from Overeem’s manager insinuate the possibility that Overeem’s epitestosterone level is exceptionally low.
There are few known circumstances where epitestosterone may be lower than normal. Jake Young, a Behavioral Neuroscience MD/PhD student and Stanford graduate, analyzed a similar situation in 2006 in which Floyd Landis blamed a low epitestosterone level to be the cause of his high T:E ratio.
Landis was found to be guilty of abuse after a carbon isotope ratio test was used to determine that his testosterone was synthetic rather than natural. But prior to the conclusive testing, Landis’ situation was similar to Overeem’s.
Prior to the exam, Young speculated on the possibilities that could cause Landis to have a low epitestosterone level. He points out that we should not only look at what can alter levels of epitestosterone, but also what can alter the excretion of epitestosterone.
One possibility he noted was that during a controlled experiment, it was shown that ingestion of alcohol “always resulted in a significant increase in the ratio between testosterone and epitestosterone.” Changes in the ratio scaled up to 90 percent in some of the subjects studied.
This change is dependent upon the amount of alcohol consumed. According to the calculations in the study, Overeem would have had to consume about five two-ounce shots of highly concentrated liquor for his urine levels to change so significantly.
While it would be surprising to find that Overeem consumed alcohol in this quantity during training, it is nevertheless plausible.
Other examples Young explicated were benign prostatic hypertrophy and individuals with naturally low epitestosterone levels. The former generally occurs at ages 60-70, and the latter is a rare occurrence, but these are also nevertheless plausible.
If Overeem alleges to have naturally low epitestosterone levels, the commission may request further testing to prove his claim.
While they don’t put Overeem in the clear, these examples show that there are possibilities that haven’t been considered. For several years, spectators have constantly attributed Overeem’s growth in size to steroid use despite the lack of evidence to support such allegations.
On UFC Tonight, Chael Sonnen points out that Overeem has not tested positive for any illegal substances. He has simply been tested to have an abnormal ratio and, as Michael Schiavello pointed out, did not fight with that high ratio.
My point here is that fans and other speculators should not jump to conclusions because of the general perception of a fighter or their situation. With Robinson’s statements and Valentijn Overeem’s claims that he would know if his brother utilized TRT, it’s difficult to persecute Overeem when analyzing the facts.
Confidence from the Overeem party, exemplified by Robinson’s statements and Overeem’s application for licensure, show that there may be a viable explanation for all of this. Of course Landis had similar confidence in his statements that concluded to not be true.
But until April 24th, we can only speculate on the possibilities. Hopefully everyone can get their facts straight.