Keith Kizer and the NSAC held a meeting yesterday to review the current rulings on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and marijuana use. The main point of the meeting was to discuss whether levels of testosterone to epitestosterone (T to E) should be lowered to a 4:1 ratio from the current 6:1 ratio.
The current acceptable ratio for the World Anti-Doping Agency is 4:1 and the NSAC are discussing moving to the WADA standard, tightening rules and introducing a new method of drug testing.
The new method that they are looking to implement is called a Carbon Isotope Test or CIR. What does a CIR do differently from a normal dope test? It will help to establish a deeper understanding of the reason behind the high or low levels of testosterone.
For instance if a fighter tests abnormally high for testosterone levels, the CIR can give conclusive results as to whether the test subject has used a PED or synthetic steroid. Such testing methods were used recently in the case of Lavar Johnson, who was recently cut by the UFC, as Marc Ratner VP for regulatory affairs for the UFC explained at the meeting:
"He was tested on the card in Anaheim which was about a month ago and the urine test came back the commission said there is a possibility of a positive here, we're going to have this CIR test, carbon test (done). It took about not quite a month but about 17 days before we got results. It was $700 for that test. It's a pretty expensive test,"
Obviously at $700 per test this may not be a method that is quickly snapped up by athletic commissions country-wide, but it is a start in the right direction. The NSAC did not, however, rule to bring the acceptable level down to 4:1 as of yet.
The reasoning behind this is that any fighters test's which do not break the current limit of 6:1 are not presented to the comission, meaning the commission does not know at what level most fighters are currently at. Dr Trainor explained more about the subject during the meeting:
"If they could get us the ones that are below 4 to 1 that are normal, I'm curious myself just to see what they come out as. Are most of our competitors 1:1? Or are most of our competitors higher? I think that might be some useful information, especially if numbers of like 300 or 400 (fighters') actual samples. That could help us make our decisions further with where we want to go with our T to E ratio."
A sport like MMA being associated with steroid use, in my opinion, is not a good thing. MMA is striving to become more of a mainstream sport, and is yet to be widely accepted as a legitimate sport. As long as there is steroid or PED USAge in MMA there will always be ammunition for narrow minded anti-MMA screwballs to blast the sport with.
Dana White recently revealed his opposition to TRT and PED's so I wonder will Zuffa invest in the CIR testing methods, as a sort of investment in the future? Surely being able to guarantee that the biggest MMA organization is full of clean, steroid free, professional athletes will help the sport grow 10 fold.
Another valid point to look at is the fact that the shelf life for most MMA fighters is quite short. Guys like Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort and many others may not have been able to compete at such a high level for so long without TRT. But surely if your body says it is time to quit then you should right?
I don't have the answers and it would seem that the NSAC don't have them yet either. They will review their policies once again after further testing.