Most MMA fans not hiding in seclusion know about Vitor Belfort’s ongoing, never-ending saga with testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT).
The ins and outs of the situation have been hashed and rehashed. Many believe that Belfort’s use of TRT was the main reason why he knocked out three high-level foes with headkicks last year, while many others think that the therapy itself cannot make a fighter that skilled, accurate, and powerful.
And, as usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
In reality, TRT users have exhibited an absolutely atrocious track record inside the Octagon, with Belfort being the only one who has truly generated a head of steam. However, “The Phenom” has also seemingly hit his prime at the ripe old age of 36, something that is rarely (if ever) seen in combat sports.
Of course, Belfort wouldn’t be garnering this much heat if he weren’t fighting for the title in his next bout. He’s stated that he will apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to use TRT for his upcoming UFC 173 main event against Chris Weidman in May. While most think that he won’t be approved for a TUE in Las Vegas, Belfort told Globo that he is confident that he will:
“For sure I'm confident. It's my treatment. The UFC and the doctors are already working on it to make things right. I don't believe that it is going to be a problem. It's not something from my head, it's a medical issue.
The big problem are the people who abuse in a general way. They use without the right for it, to cheat. I'm the only guy who is rigorously tested in gaps of 15 days, as Dana White said. When the UFC don't do the test, I do it myself. It's my treatment. The cool thing is to be fine with your conscience, to know that you are playing fair.” – Translated via Bloody Elbow
Belfort might also receive a bit of slack if he hadn’t failed a post-fight drug test for anabolic steroids in 2006, and he’d get even more if he didn’t constantly defend his TRT use as merely medicine that he needs. It’s been well chronicled that Belfort receives frequent blood tests to monitor his testosterone levels.
But he took it a step further today, stating his view that his opponents are probably on something illegal, and should be tested stringently during their training camps by providing blood samples:
“I'll start asking for one thing the UFC. All those who fight against me are always complaining. But I have one thing to say: why they are not tested during the preparation for the fight? The thing is that many guys use doping during their camps to improve recovery and such. During my camp I'm thoroughly tested.
I will now ask for Dana White to test all those guys who fight against me and keep talking. The same way that my blood is tested, must test their blood to see if they are not cheating. Many use products that we know, they know that they are mocking and they are talking about me.
But in reality, everyone is using during the camp.
Get there on time and piss when already out of his body. I do not. I am obliged to draw blood during my camp and after the fight. They do not have to draw blood, it's just pee.
Then all the guys who will fight me should do the test with me. Let's see if their hormones are straight or if they are using an illegal substance. We know that there are a lot of cheating out there. They abuse during the camp. I'm a proper man. Let me take the exam. I will be tested, and they will not be tested?”
In an effort to divert the attention off of him, Belfort made a very bold claim. He may be right when he says that many fighters use performance-enhancing drugs during their training camps for big fights, but it’s probably best for a man who has been suspended for the same thing to hold off from hurling accusations.
There’s no doubt that PEDs are a rampant issue in MMA right now, and for all his diverting, Belfort does raise some very valid points about drug testing leading up to fights.
Is this something that would help to curb the problem of PED use in the sport? It would definitely come at great expense to the UFC, but it could also go a long way in removing the black eye that steroids and other illegal drugs put on MMA. Would stricter testing like “The Phenom” described actually make a big difference?
Belfort seems to think that he’s the scapegoat for everything that has to do with testosterone-enhancing substances in the UFC. Do you agree with him?