In the ever continuing saga of testosterone replacement therapy in the UFC, Ben Rothwell has announced by way of released statement, that the UFC has suspended him for nine months as per the results of his UFC 164 post fight drug tests.
As it turns out, Rothwell had been given a therapeutic usage exemption (TUE) by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, prior to his August 31rst bout in Milwaukee, with Brandon Vera.
However, it appears that in using TRT, Rothwell overshot, by a hair, the allowable limits for testosterone that can be detected in a fighter’s blood system. As such, the WDSPS issued Rothwell an administrative warning, however beyond that, no further actions or penalties were taken or assessed.
However and regardless of being given a pass by Wisconsin’s governing body of oversight, the UFC appears to be displeased with the Rothwell’s test results and have subsequently, decided to suspend the heavyweight fighter for nine months.
As these are the facts of the case, a few things should be considered.
First, what legitimate reason would a 31 year old fighter (32 on October 17th) have to be on TRT? In considering the answer, fans would likely to be hard pressed to come up with a reasonable answer.
Further, if the answer to the first question is “none”, then it begs another question, which is this, are doctors making false claims on behalf of fighters and are the commissions handing out TUEs’ like they’re candy to any fighter that wants to make a bogus claim?
Beyond that there’s the question of fairness and on an assortment of levels.
First, there’s the opponents; in this case, Brandon Vera. From what can be gathered, Vera apparently didn’t know Rothwell was on TRT. If so, then it’s simply not fair. A fighter has the right to know whether or not his opponent is on any type of sanctioned medication. That just seems flat out reasonable and more so, professional.
For the record, this is the second time in four fights, that one of Vera’s bouts have fallen victim to post-fight drug issues; the first time being an overturned loss to Thiago Silva, back in January of 2011, when Silva’s urine tests failed to pass muster.
Beyond fairness to the fighters, there’s the fairness to the fans. I think fans, particularly those that wage legal bets on the fights, have the right to know whether or not any of the fighters on a card are on TRT. The simple reality of it is, that if a fan likes to wager on a fight, they probably don’t want to wager on one where their fighter / their bet, is going up against a guy with a TRT sanction.
Further still, it brings up the question of those who pay out on a loss and when you’re biggest venue city is Las Vegas, one would think that would be of concern to the UFC. To turn the situation in on itself, one can only imagine the irony of the Fertitta’s Stations Casinos paying out heavily on an underdog win, only to have the fight overturned a month later.
Finally, there’s the question of Vitor Belfort and the fact that he seems to be the scapegoat on all things TRT. Without arguing the point for or against TRT and accepting that commissions have made rulings allowing for TUEs’, it’s becoming progressively more difficult to paint Belfort as the “bad guy” or the poster child for TRT use or abuse, within the UFC.
A question of interest to put to Dana White on this subject would be the following: How many fighters currently singed by the UFC, have TU waivers? A better question might be, does he even know?
In terms of the UFC’s suspension of Rothwell, it really doesn’t amount to much. In his six fights with the UFC, Rothwell has averaged a fight ever seven-and-a-half months. If the UFC is looking to put him back on the active roster in nine months, and assuming that they book him in the ninth month, all the suspension really adds up to is six weeks. In the greater scheme of things it amounts to nothing and seems more like a public relations ploy on the part of the promotion, then a real effort to send any kind of a message to Rothwell or any other TU exempted fighters.
The UFC’s full statements, as well as that of Ben Rothwell's are as follows:
“Rothwell’s post-fight blood test was administered by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. While the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services has elected not to impose any discipline on Rothwell, to date, the UFC holds its athletes to a high standard of personal and professional conduct and finds that Rothwell’s actions merit the suspension as a violation of the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and his Promotional Agreement with Zuffa, LLC.
Upon completion of his suspension, Rothwell must also submit a negative drug test before being allowed to compete in a UFC event.”
Ben Rothwell's as released to MMAjunkie.com:
"Following my victory at UFC 164 I was informed I tested for an elevated level of testosterone. This came as a shock because I had applied for and was granted a TRT exemption and was doing so under the supervision of a doctor. I was tested every week for eight weeks prior to the fight and was well under the acceptable level each time.
I had applied for TRT after an endocrinologist and Wisconsin athletic doctors diagnosed me with hypogonadism. They felt it was caused by a car crash in 1999 that left me with severe head trauma and in a coma. Doctors told me TRT was something that could stop the hypogonadism from degrading my body.
After getting the news of the elevated test, I spoke with the Wisconsin Athletic Commission and they decided to give me an administrative warning. I was told they didn't think I tried to cheat, but felt some punishment was necessary.
I have now been informed the UFC has elected to suspend me for nine months. I am not going to fight the suspension as I feel ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure I stay under the acceptable limit. I am deeply sorry for this mistake and apologize to my fans, family and friends."