Nevada Commission: Past Steroid Abusers Not Likely to Be Given TRT Exemption
UFC president Dana White recently made the declaration that any fighter using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in the promotion would soon find themselves subjected to random testing throughout their training camps to ensure no cheating was going on and not getting caught.
White's belief is that many of the fighters using TRT are spiking their testosterone levels during a training camp to help performance, endurance and other benefits and then making sure their testing levels are back within reason before a fight.
Most recently controversy swirled around former UFC champion Vitor Belfort when he was allowed to use TRT for his fight against Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil. The UFC released an official statement after the fight stating that Belfort was using the treatment and tested within normal ranges after his bout against Bisping.
Unfortunately, Belfort's case falls into special circumstances because he has been previously suspended after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, and under many of the state athletic commissions in the United States, he would struggle to receive a temporary use exemption (TUE) for TRT.
Belfort tested positive for steroids following his 2006 fight in Pride against Dan Henderson. Following the positive test, Belfort claimed the results could have happened either from injections he received from his doctor after knee surgery or from a supplement he was given at a health food store in Brazil.
His pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears that day, and the Nevada Commission handed down a 9-month suspension along with a $10,000 fine.
Because of his recorded past incident using performance enhancing drugs, Kizer says Belfort or any athlete under the same rules would struggle mightily to be approved for a TRT exemption in a state like Nevada.
"I don't see Vitor Belfort getting a TRT exemption from us," Kizer told Bleacher Report. "I really don't and I feel kind of bad for him in some ways because if he has learned from his mistakes and now he's trying to do it the right way and his levels are low with the treatment good for him and I hope he is doing that."
Kizer points at a fighter like Chael Sonnen when speaking about the hoops a fighter with a past suspension on their record for performance enhancing drugs would jump through to gain an exemption in Nevada.
Sonnen never tested positive for steroids like Belfort, but he was suspended in 2010 after his testosterone levels came back over the legal limit for his fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117. Sonnen was a user of TRT at that time and continues to be to this day, but when he applied for his exemption in 2012 before his rematch with Silva he had to appear before a formal hearing in Nevada to be able to use the product prior to his fight.
"He handled himself well and some people handle themselves well," said Kizer. "Some guys are going to have to jump through some additional hoops, but even Chael wasn't a prior steroid (user) that could have caused the deficiency like Vitor."
Sonnen was approved and his testing levels were fine for the fight, but Kizer says that the former middleweight contender was the perfect example of someone who may not have ever been trying to cheat, but because he was suspended it made it that much harder for him to gain an exemption the next time around.
The process for a fighter like Belfort or any other past competitor who has tested positive for a banned substance would be the same or even harder. Kizer says there's no guarantee that past steroid use is to blame for Belfort's low testosterone levels, but obviously that stigma is attached to him because he has tested positive for banned substances in the past.
Right or wrong, that positive test will haunt Belfort for the rest of his career.
"The rules are the rules and you have to draw the line somewhere," said Kizer.
Belfort's next fight will be in May back in his home country of Brazil when he faces former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8. It's unknown at this time if he will continue to use the TRT treatments ahead of that fight or not.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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