It was only a matter of time.
If you're not the type who follow sports outside of mixed martial arts, here's a brief recap of the Biogenesis scandal that has sent the baseball world reeling over the past few months.
Biogenesis of America was an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. It purportedly specialized in weight loss and hormone replacement therapy, but what it allegedly did was distribute performance-enhancing drugs to athletes.
In January, the Miami New Times—after being provided with records by a former employee of the clinic—reported that as many as 20 Major League Baseball players had been linked to the clinic, the most famous of which were Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
Major League Baseball began investigating the reports, and earlier this week the first suspension coming out of the scandal dropped: Braun gave something that was supposed to sound like an apology (but really wasn't) and was suspended for the rest of the season.
On Thursday, ESPN's Outside the Lines reported that former Biogenesis employee-turned-whistleblower Porter Fischer told them that the clinic's client list stretched far beyond the boundaries of Major League Baseball:
Fischer said he and associates have identified athletes from the NBA, NCAA, professional boxing, tennis and MMA, in addition to other professional baseball players who have not yet been identified. As far as he knows, Fischer said, Bosch had no clients from the NFL or NHL.
Fans of mixed martial arts won't be surprised by the news that the client list allegedly includes fighters. And while it would be irresponsible to speculate which names may be contained on the list, it would serve us well to remember that this isn't the first time a fighter has been implicated in a steroid scandal involving athletes from other major sports.
In August 2010, former UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin was named as one of 22 professional athletes who allegedly received steroids from an online pharmacy based in Mobile, Alabama named Applied Pharmacy Services from January to August 2006.
When the accusations were made public, his manager said that Carwin had no comment at the moment but would release a statement later. The statement never came, and Carwin never addressed the subject. His career in the UFC continued until his retirement earlier this year.
As mixed martial arts continues its long march into the public eye, the sport will increasingly be involved in the same kind of scandals that envelop more well-established sporting organizations. The athletes, though still not paid as much as they might deserve, are making enough money that seeking out alternative forms of performance-enhancing drugs—designer drugs that are tailor-made to beat available drug tests—becomes a more viable option than it used to be.
Every athlete wants an edge, and fighters are no different. If given a chance to take a risk and inject themselves with a substance that will give them a leg up on their opponents, you can be sure that some fighters will go for it. There is a staggering monetary earning difference between a superstar headlining pay-per-view events and a virtual unknown grinding it out on the prelims.
Whether an athlete is trying to move his way up the card and make more money or hold onto his current spot, you can be sure that plenty of fighters will weigh the risks involved and decide that it's worth the potential pitfalls.
It goes without saying that scandals like the one surrounding Biogenesis will not be the last involving mixed martial artists. After all, we're talking about a sport that condones the legal usage of testosterone replacement therapy.
No matter how you spin the idea of TRT, it comes down to this: Athletes are being allowed to inject themselves with testosterone to make up for a deficiency in their own bodies.
Sure, there are cases where athletes have a hormonal imbalance. Their bodies, through no fault of their own, don't produce enough testosterone to allow them to compete in athletics. And I can't fault them for undergoing a regimen that will give them the chance to compete on equal footing with their counterparts.
But more often than not, an athlete can't produce enough testosterone because he's damaged his body with steroid usage in the past. And yet, he is allowed to fix the problems he willfully created by injecting himself with even more performance-enhancing drugs.
There is no logical explanation for why a young, athletic and often incredibly muscular athlete would need to boost his testosterone levels. No reason whatsoever. And if the rare athletes who do require a boost in testosterone to live their everyday lives are lumped in with the rest of the ones who are looking to gain an advantage, well, you can blame the cheaters.
Mixed martial arts does have a performance-enhancing drug problem, and it's only going to get worse as the sport gets bigger, the fighters get richer and the stakes get higher.
No matter which names eventually surface as part of the Biogenesis investigation, you can be sure that they won't be the last.
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