Before Overeem ended up at the center of attention in the MMA world, a lot of talk was surrounding testosterone replacement therapy. The treatment is designed to help men advanced in age who, for whatever reason, have low levels of testosterone.
TRT was not designed with athletes in mind and was not meant to be a component of cheating in MMA. Unfortunately, many allege its place in fighting is just that.
I am no doctor. I am not going to preach about who needs TRT and who does not, or who is abusing it and who really needs it. Many high-profile fighters are lauding its benefits, including Quinton Jackson, Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson.
One of the common misconceptions about TRT is that it is exclusively used to rebound testosterone levels after steroid use. This is not necessarily true, as low testosterone is fairly common in males, athlete or not.
Additionally, and let me reiterate that I am not a doctor, it seems possible that years of weight cutting and intense training will have some impact on any given bodily function.
There is also a misconception that, essentially, TRT is a doctor helping a fighter to legally juice. While, again, I am not a doctor and cannot say who is abusing it and who is not, there is a fair bit of regulation to the treatment, and it requires a doctor's approval (though that is not worth that much) and must be reported to athletic commissions.
People are leery of TRT because of those two ideas, and while it is a bit hasty and unfair to declare all fighters who undergo the procedure as cheaters, both of these stereotypes apply to Nate Marquardt.
Marquardt, Sonnen, Jackson and Henderson are all openly using TRT. All of them are over 30 years old (Marquardt at 32, Jackson at 33, Sonnen at 35 and Henderson at 41) and each have been fighting for over 10 years.
Marquardt, though, has a past of steroid abuse in the sport, as he tested positive for nandrolone in his UFC debut against Ivan Salaverry. He also ended up being forced out of the main event of UFC on Versus 4 the day before due to elevated levels of testosterone. If there was a poster boy for abusing this legitimate medical treatment, it would be him.
In spite of his history with anabolic steroids and his repeated improper behavior, the UFC was quite forgiving when it came to Marquardt's latest, and biggest, indiscretion. Marquardt was publicly dismissed from the UFC the day of the event and was immediately approached by numerous promotions.
He ultimately signed with BAMMA but never actually fought for the promotion, leaving after being approached by Zuffa's lesser promotion, and the UFC's sister, Strikeforce. It is ridiculous to think the Marquardt ended up getting, essentially, no punishment for such a great offense.
Even though Marquardt literally started his UFC career with a suspension and ended up sabotaging a main event, the UFC keeps on extending him an unwarranted amount of leniency. While there are more recent examples, the Marquardt case is one of the longest-running examples of how the UFC simply will not take any real action, as long as the individual offenders remain a draw.