What do all of these fighters have in common outside of being in the UFC, with several of them being former champions in the promotion? They are all current or past users of the controversial testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) procedure that continues to plague the MMA landscape.
In the past, UFC president Dana White has bounced back and forth on his stance regarding the procedure. By the standard of state athletic commissions, as long as a fighter is granted a temporary use exemption (TUE), he is allowed to use the treatment to boost his testosterone for a fight.
This week White came out in strong opposition to TRT. He now says if you're a fighter in the UFC and using the controversial treatment, the UFC will be testing nonstop throughout a training camp to ensure no funny business is going on.
"I'm against it. If you asked me three months ago it's legal, it's sports science, but everybody figures out a way to take a great thing and cheat and make it bad. I think that from what I've seen from the last year, I've seen situations where guys—if you know what testosterone replacement is, if you're older your testosterone starts to get lower, well they can give you testosterone to get you back up to a 25-year-old (level)," said White during the UFC on Fuel 7 post-fight press conference.
"What I believe guys are doing jacking up this stuff through the roof through their entire training camp then getting back down to normal levels right before the fight, which is cheating. I hate it, don't like it, and I'm going to fight it.
"If you are using TRT in the UFC, we're going to start testing the s—t out of you, through your entire camp."
Fighters who have been diagnosed by doctors with low testosterone can receive the treatment, which allows them to regain what is considered normal levels for an athlete. The problem White sees is that he believes fighters are taking the synthetic testosterone and boosting the levels to much higher than regular standards to help during training and then monitoring the levels to make sure they are back within a legal limit for fight time.
White doesn’t want to see it anymore, and he's willing to test athletes independently of the athletic commissions to guarantee that if they are on TRT, their levels never peak above what would be considered normal by testing standards. The World Anti-Doping Agency allows for a four-to-one ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone levels, while the Nevada State Athletic Commission allows up to a six-to-one level.
"The TRT thing is legal, the commission lets guys use testosterone replacement therapy," White said about the procedure. "I believe that guys are cheating on it. I truly believe that guys are cheating on it, and I don't like to see a natural, gifted athlete go in and fight against a guy who has been jacked up on TRT for three months."
White also points to the issue that there is not a clear definition or understanding of testosterone replacement therapy as it relates to athletics or more specifically to mixed martial arts.
"The other problem with TRT, the other problem that I have—you get four smart guys together who can have an educated conversation about testosterone replacement therapy—they'll give you four different answers. So when it's that vague and that many people don't understand it, nanograms and this ratio to that ratio and all this bullsh—t. When you sit down and you start talking about it, it's not fair," White commented.
Testosterone naturally lowers as a person grows older, so levels won't be the same at age 40 as they were at age 25. White believes that if a fighter's testosterone levels are so dangerously low that he requires TRT, maybe that's a sign that his fighting career is over.
"If your testosterone level isn't high enough maybe you're too old to fight," White stated.
White was adamant about the testing, but it's still to be revealed how often the UFC could test athletes and at what stage the UFC will be notified about a fighter being on TRT to be able to test. It's also unknown at this time what ratio the UFC would allow a fighter to have during a training camp without testing at an unacceptable level.
It appears TRT will continue to permeate the headlines in the foreseeable future.
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.
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