After last week’s massive fallout surrounding the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to ban TRT from all MMA fights within the state, there are, not surprisingly, still a ton of pieces left to pick up. The ramifications of banning the highly controversial therapy will most likely take months or even years to figure out, but the immediate effects hit home when surging middleweight contender and TRT poster boy Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort was pulled out of his scheduled UFC 173 title bout against Chris Weidman.
News initially came that Belfort chose to withdraw, but “The Phenom” issued a statement that he was forced to back out and would return for a title shot against the winner of Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida.
Tonight, however, news came on “UFC Tonight” that Belfort was issued a drug test in early February, and Ariel Helwani speculated that the results of that test may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back concerning TRT in MMA:
“Here’s one question that we still don’t have an answer to, On February 7, the Nevada State Athletic Commission approached Vitor Belfort, who was in Las Vegas at the time, to take a random drug test.
Now, Nevada has the results of that test; they got them early last week. UFC knows them, Vitor Belfort knows them. But because Vitor Belfort had yet to apply for a license to fight in Nevada later on this year against Chris Weidman, they are not at liberty to announce publically those results.
The only one who is able to do that is Vitor Belfort, and he has not done that. And I’m wondering if there’s a link between that drug test and this announcement by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to ban TRT; to say enough is enough.
Now, his lawyer tells me that the results right now are irrelevant. I would beg to differ, and I wonder; if he did pass the test, why not just tell everyone? Why not just come out there and say, “This has nothing to do with that.”
Until he does that, there are going to be a lot of questions about Vitor, and he might just be the face (unwillingly) of TRT right now in MMA.”
Indeed Belfort is the face of TRT in MMA, whether he likes it or not. But as a longtime user of TRT who once tested for T:E levels of over 16:1 after his first fight against Anderson Silva, UFC fighter and FOX Sports analyst Chael Sonnen spoke up about how hard it will be to adjust to life without TRT as a fighter earlier today.
On tonight’s show, Sonnen reiterated those thoughts after giving his opinion on how Belfort handled the situation, adding that he may have to retire from the sport if a suitable replacement for TRT isn’t found soon:
“As it relates to Vitor, I think this was a very genuine and sincere thing for him. Here’s a problem that I have: a fighter that said, seven days ago, “I need TRT, or I can’t do this,” and then all of the sudden goes, “Well, I’ll just stop TRT.”
I find that very disingenuous. For Vitor to say, “Look, they’ve changed the rules and I, for now, at least, need to take myself out. I am potentially in that same field. If this retires guys, then it retires guys.
The rules are the rules, and the rules have to be followed. I personally, I’m going through this myself where I’ve had to stop with testosterone with the hope that we can find a new way that we can gain the results of upping testosterone and staying at a healthy level.
If it doesn’t work, I may have to stop the sport. And it’s as simple as that.”
That’s quite the hard-hitting segment on TRT, and it’s a sort of epitaph for the oft-discussed therapy. The reality is Belfort was the scapegoat for its use because he was noticeably stronger when on the therapy, winning all three of his bouts in 2013 with emphatic head kicks while other aging fighters using it were getting blown out of the water.
And if Sonnen is having such a difficult time weaning off of TRT, then shouldn’t Belfort be having the same difficulties? He’s said it’s going to take him 90 days to get back to normal, and we’ll probably never know the results of his recent drug test in Las Vegas.
But did those results prompt the NSAC to stop dealing with TRT once and for all?