Ben Rothwell’s TUE Permission Slip Slips Up, UFC Suspends The Fighter For Nine Months


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:

The UFC:

“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

“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.”

  • @Brian….That may explain why Ben Rothwell went into the stalking "ANIMAL" mode to finish off Vera.

    Just when we all thought the TRT debate had died !!!

    • Fighting against TRT or not, Vera doesn't look like he can beat anyone anymore. I'm shocked the UFC hasn't cut him, already.

      • The UFC are making plans to go to Philippines so I imagine they need a couple of poster boys for that promotion. Alot of Filipinos know vera and Mark Munoz.

        That's the only reason I can think of to keep Vera at this stage….

        • Yeah, Filipino freaks………….wait, but I'm Filipino, seriously, I would rather catch Brittany Palmer in a trench coat than Muñoz and Vera together

  • Does the UFC make you guys use the twenty year old pic of baby hitler? why not use a bloated and greedy up to date version. I don't see any pics of JJ as a six year old. lol

    • Lol!

    • lol, maybe available non copyrighted usable pics? 8)

  • It's unfortunate that the guys are now feeling like they have to use TRT to be competitive against the rest. Too many are already using.
    Seeing Dana's transformation through pics makes me wonder if he's using also.

  • Yeah outlandish for a 31 year old to use it but totally acceptable for a 36 year old to use it what a huge difference. I just love that Dana's always talking about the unfairness and injustices of the commission and then ultimately decides to cut off Rothwell's income for nine months.

  • "fans would likely to be hard pressed to come up with a 'reasonable answer'" ???

    I think an informed fan could come up with very reasonable answers. The question is whether you are interested in a 'reasonable' discussion and can abandon your biases or whether you are fixed in your misunderstanding.

    There are two important issues:
    1) Consistent application of principles: If an athlete is abnormally deficient in cortisol, insulin, thyroid hormone, progesterone, estrogen, human growth hormone, testosterone or parathyroid hormone they will suffer related illness and its symptoms. Replacing the deficient hormone is reasonable and in fact would be necessary to remain healthy. Several of these hormones can be abused. Sentencing an athlete to suffer ill health by not allowing medical replacement is irresponsible. Not allowing an athlete to complete because they are on insulin, thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen etc reflect a lack of understanding. Hormone replacement that is safe and fair is not difficult.
    2) The normal range: The Endocrine Society's guidelines on testosterone replacement (which are available on their website) recommend replacing to the middle of the normal range. If an athlete is in the middle of the normal range there is no advantage over another athlete. The normal range doesn't provide any extra strength, healing or any other benefit. It simply prevents the disease state associated with deficiency. The key is adequate testing to ensure proper replacement and to allow catching cheaters. It is a simple matter. Test weekly. If somebody is not available for weekly testing they are not allowed to use, period. If somebody is training in another country where reliable testing is not available – they can't use. Set up reliable testing – this is not difficult. It is not hard to detect artificial T in the system. The key is simply having the will to a) institute weekly testing, b) lifetime ban abusers and c) prosecute physicians involved in cheating.

    Rothwell is implying that he suffered a head injury in his accident and this can lead to an injury of the stalk of the pituitary gland leading to deficiency of multiple hormones. Physiological replacement is fair to all fighter and, indeed, humane.

    • Michael and respectfully of your professional opinion, one of which I am devoid, I stated:

      "…fans would likely to be hard pressed to come up with a 'reasonable answer."

      in consideration, I should have qualified the "full" statement, with the declarative "average".

      Most fans, including myself, really wouldn't understand the clinical possibilities that you propose.

      In would be even more confusing, should there be another voice of equivalent or better qualification, stipulating to another view of the data.

      As such, I stand by my original contention that…"average" fans would likely to be hard pressed to come up with a 'reasonable answer'.

      Operative words in that sentence being, average and reasonable.

      In this instance and regarding Ben Rothwell, and these two operatives, I claim to be the former and find the latter, lacking as a proposition.

      My uninformed view of it, at any rate.

      • Yeah, as usual, I think your writing is very reasonable and I get your meaning. If I answered a little aggressively I'm sorry – it's just that there is a knee jerk reaction to be negative against T and I find it frustrating to see that sometimes. I'm open to a reasoned discussion.

        Testosterone is kind of like having a car. Used properly, within the established rule and having one similar in capability to everybody else is very reasonable. Having a car that you misuse for things it wasn't meant for (driving through the front window of a bank) or having one that is twice as fast (200 mph vs 100 mph) as everybody elses – is going to lead to trouble. The car is not the problem it is the misuse of it and the excessive capabilities relative to the norm that causes the problem.

        To me the key is iron clad testing and stiff stiff penalties.

        By the way, other performance enhancing drugs that are under discussion in my (ultramarathon running) world right now – Viagra / Cialis, Tylenol (yes, Tylenol), Anti-inflammitories and the most commonly used performance enhancer: Caffeine. Viagra and Cialis enhance blood flow through the lungs (important in athletic events at altitiude). Tylenol reduces core body temperature and improves athletic performance in endurance events. Caffeine has been shown repeatedly to enhance athletic performance (except maybe building card houses 😉

        It's a complicated world

        • Michael, I should have mentioned that I'm fine with TRT. I have to be, I'm a huge Vitor Belfort fan.

          That said, fighters still have to work within the guidelines of usage and although Rothwell might have a legitimate usage requirement, I nonetheless still doubt it.

          Personally, I think a lot of the problems could be mitigated by way of a process. It would be no big deal for the UFC to appoint a doctor or panel thereof, who would be required to examine either the data, the fighter or both and then render a ruling regarding the TR usage need of a fighter.

          Also, I think when a fighter both applies for and gets a TUE, that information should be published and made available online. The reasons for application or any pertinent medical data could be left unavailable, but the fact that an application was made or approved should be made public.

          And yes, it is a complicated world; becoming more so, too.

        • Viagra for runners would give them an extra leg.

    • Thanks Doc, for your insight once again! Hopefully everyone will read your reply and digest it for future threads.

  • They should just make it legal to use full blow steroids at this point, it can't be stopped, people who want to cheat are going to cheat and there's nothing anyone can do to stop them, they'll be punished AFTER the fact, but what's the point. I'm just tired of all these scandals, let these people do whatever the F they want to themselves, i'm sure they'll suffer the consequences in the future for it.