MMA Fighters Calling out PED Users a Positive Sign for the Sport

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2012

Fighters have been lining up to take shots at Overeem over his failed drug test.
Fighters have been lining up to take shots at Overeem over his failed drug test.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you sit back and really look closely at it, the PED issue is a lot deeper than just some fighters using steroids. The problem that has perhaps been even bigger than the actual juicing is the lack of condemnation from inside the fight industry.

Actions speak far louder than words, and the UFC's actions have included immediate title shots for stripped champions like Tim Sylvia and Sean Sherk, opening up a spot for Josh Burkman on TUF Season 2 after a failed drug test kept him off Season 1, a willingness to accept Josh Barnett back into the fold and on and on. At no point has the UFC actually shown that they care if their fighters are on PEDs.

Perhaps worse, however, is that fighters have not done much when it comes to holding their coworkers' feet to the fire on this issue.

Why this is remains a mystery. Sure, some fighters are outspoken on the PED problem in MMA. Roy Nelson, for example, jabbed at both Matt Mitrione and Shane Carwin for not submitting to voluntary drug testing before the TUF 16 finale. However, most fighters just have not spoken out against PEDs or fighters caught using these banned substances. That is, until now.

2012 has seen fighters, finally, start actively calling out their disgraced future (or past) opponents.

As you probably know, Alistair Overeem checked in before UFC 146 with an elevated level of testosterone. While this does not definitively link Overeem to steroids, the Dutch kickboxer has long been suspected of PED abuse, as fans saw him go from a lanky light heavyweight to one of the biggest heavyweights in the sport, all while fighting in Japan, a country which does not drug test fighters.

The reason for his unnatural testosterone levels, he claims, was because of a prescribed injection of a steroidal anti-inflammatory at his physician's office (and the shady doctor corroborates). The excuse stinks, and taking a magnifying glass to it reveals that this is because it is purely ridiculous (as broken down here by our lead writer). This left many fans, pundits and bloggers believing that he was lying to cover up his PED abuse.

While in the past, this would get swept under the rug and forgotten about, Overeem has found himself a pariah among other heavyweights.

Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos said that Overeem's wins “cannot be taken seriously” because of the failed drug test. Fabricio Werdum, who lost to Overeem in 2011, said that the Dutch kickboxer was definitely “taking special juice” when they fought. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva said that, when the two fight in early 2013, “he won't be clean for sure”.

The list goes on, and not just in regards to Overeem. Nate Marquardt's history of steroids and his more recent use of TRT came under fire from Strikeforce welterweight Tyron Woodley before the two fought. Ronda Rousey has made sure to jeer Cris “Cyborg” Santos every chance she gets and always throws in a dig about her testing positive for an anabolic steroid. Dan Henderson took a swipe at Vitor Belfort's failed post-fight drug test from his days fighting in Pride earlier this year.

This does not even get into the back-and-forth war over TRT's place in MMA (which, wrongly, is considered a form of using steroids by many fighters).

Does this mean that the days of PEDs in MMA are coming to a close? No. Will cattiness from other fighters be a legitimate deterrent for fighters that are using? Probably not.

Regardless, the culture in the sport is starting to shift in a positive way. That's something we haven't been able to say in a long while.