Steroids and PEDs are starting to seem like an undeniable evil in MMA, getting fighters suspended and cut left and right. The debate over anabolic steroids and TRT rages on with no set solution in place.
Many martial artists, such as UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson, have spoken up to advocate increased and/or random testing in order to alleviate the use of PEDs. Today, UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has come out with the same stance, telling MMA Fighting his support of an even playing field:
"There's rules out there. We all need to follow the same rules.
"Me, I'm a natural athlete. I think all my competitors should be the same. We should be all equal. Nobody should have an advantage like that on their side."
“You can by looking at me. Me and Daniel (Cormier) were talking about -- I forgot who were saying it, but it was two guys, they were trying to think of the two guys that they think, for sure, are not on steroids or anything. The only ones they could come up with are me and Daniel. Just by looking at us, you can tell that we don't do anything. Or if we do, it's not very good stuff.”
"So I think we're both on the side of [increased] testing. For sure, I'm all for that. Being natural, I think, is the best way to be even on the playing field."
Some simple, yet powerful, words from the world’s best heavyweight. It’s not hard to believe Velasquez’s stance on steroids, as he and American Kickboxing Academy teammate Daniel Cormier would never win a bodybuilding contest. But they are arguably the two most effective heavyweights in MMA as of late.
With two UFC Champions calling out for a new drug-testing program, it seems a fresh plan would at least make some headway towards solving the UFC’s PED epidemic. Failed drug tests for elevated testosterone have ruined cards such as UFC 146 last spring, while many other fighters have been suspended for use.
Marijuana has also been a hot topic in MMA, and it is kind of paralleled against PEDs. With Nick Diaz being suspended and Matt Riddle being cut for using marijuana, Velasquez sees the two as polar opposites:
"I'm looking at, kind of, two spectrums of it. Living now in California, where you'll see it on the street, it doesn't seem as bad. It definitely [desensitizes you to it], seeing somebody just walking down the street, or having [dispensary] shops all around. It definitely does.”
I think that increased, random drug testing for steroids is an obvious avenue for the UFC to take. Too many fighters are using PEDs, with estimates continually coming out as high as 90% of UFC fighters. Whether those figures are true or not, the instances of steroids ruining fights and events are simply too high.
Dana White has recently come out with a stance against TRT. While legal to use with a doctor’s prescription, it definitely treads a fine line between medical use and simply gaining an edge. Of course fighters like Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, and Chael Sonnen are all admitted users of TRT.
The UFC could go a long way towards curing the drug epidemic in MMA with a new and more rigorous testing plan. No, it would not get rid of the problem as a whole, but it would make it a lot harder for athletes looking to gain an illegal advantage. As far as marijuana use goes, I think it’s very hard to call it a PED for an athlete, considering what the effects are.
This is obviously a debate that has many sides to the coin. What are your thoughts on steroids and TRT? Should they be tested for with much stricter methods? Would that even curb their use? And is marijuana being focused on as too much of a problem when true performance-enhancing substances are being relied upon in record numbers? Let me know your stance.