Life without TRT in the UFC has become a sudden reality for the former recipients of the controversial treatment; the NSAC and UFC’s joint ban of it’s usage sparked a media storm, and caused ‘The Phenom’ Vitor Belfort to drop out of his UFC 173 title fight with Chris Weidman.
Another known patient of testosterone therapy is former light-heavy and middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen. ‘The American Gangster’ denied any wrong doing after his failed drugs test in 2010; claiming his elevated testosterone levels were due to a misunderstanding between the UFC and his doctors.
Now likely in the grips of the infamous cold turkey, Sonnen stopped by to talk with Yahoo Sports about life after TRT:
"It puts me in a spot, because medically, I do need testosterone. I have to look at this carefully, but they made no bones about it: It's out. We all have to deal with that, whether we like it or not. The best way to describe is that it is a completely terrible, horrible feeling. This is a medicine and it's medicine I need to live normally on a day-to-day basis.”
Chael P’s discrepancies in the UFC have not cost him too dearly in the form of high profile fights; the Oregon native has since gone on to score two more title shots with his trash-talking take on all comers character. Whether or not he indeed needs the treatment is debatable, though Sonnen thinks that the therapy is not understood by the masses:
“People say it is a performance enhancer, and there are a lot of things guys can take to enhance performance. But testosterone is more than a performance enhancer for me. It is a life enhancer. My life is better. My attitude is better. I have more energy. I need less sleep. It makes me feel better in many different regards. It makes me a better husband and a better neighbor and a better pet owner. I understand the abuse, but this is a medicine that helps people with a problem."”
The primary function of TRT is to aid recovery and muscle repair, whether you like it or not, the treatment is a performance enhancing drug. In my mind, the only other option aside from a ban was the ‘free for all’ option. The UFC would not have retained much legitimacy in creating a mutant MMA league, so the more appropriate ban was handed down.
I have wondered since as to whether the promotion would have kept TRT going if the Nevada State big wigs hadn’t intervened first. The answer to that is for the birds, but the more pertinent question is what will happen when all these high level fighters go at it clean? Practicing Endocrinologist Dr. Goodman spoke with Fightland recently to explain the aftermath of the ban:
“Every single guy whose exemption is getting taken away is going to come up with very low testosterone, and he won’t be able to compete, at least on the level that he might have been competing at. Every guy that goes to the commission and stops getting these exemptions, they’re going to have to get some testosterone to just keep them normal. They won’t be able to compete because their testosterone will just plummet.”
“Their muscle strength will decline. They’ll put on some fat weight. Their moods will become depressive. They’ll have fatigue. It’ll be horrible—I feel bad for them. It’s going to be misery … I’m not saying all guys are going to have serious problems. It depends on what they’ve been on, how much they’ve been taking, what other drugs they’ve been on. It’s a mixed bag.”
Anyone that thinks that the TRT ban will not have a huge affect on it’s former recipients is sorely mistaken. Sonnen seems to already be displaying a number of symptoms listed by the doctor, and his next performance against Wanderlei Silva could be a thoroughly poor showing if he shows up looking like John Candy on meth.