It is one of the ugly facts of the sporting world that cheating athletes have the legacy of various leagues across the country. In the 1990’s, Major League Baseball’s steroid scandal sparked controversy over one of the otherwise most exciting homerun eras in baseball history. In the present day, the NFL has been straining in attempts to clean up after the backlash of concussion and head trauma research discoveries. It would seem only natural that the world’s fastest growing sport, Mixed Martial Arts, would have to deal with similar problems. However, thanks to a recent Nevada State Athletic Commission ruling, the sport of MMA is well on its way to a becoming a clean sport.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the primary fighting league in the world, has been a hotbed of controversy over recent years, as many of the sports’ aging fighters have been granted permission to use Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) by state athletic commissions. Some of the sports most revered contenders such as Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, and Dan Henderson are notorious for their use of testosterone therapy in order to maintain competitive in a young man’s sport.
The allowance of testosterone treatments have ignited much debate in the sport, as a multitude of the MMA league owners, analysts, journalists, and competitors have labeled Testosterone Usage Exemption (TUE) as legalized cheating. The accusations regarding TRT are that it unnaturally reverses the aging process, providing an unfair advantage to fighters who should be slowing down in their waning years. Much more serious, however, is the scientific data that indicates that profoundly low testosterone levels have a direct correlation with prior steroid use. This means that if a UFC fighter was guilty of using steroids in his younger years, there is a strong possibility that he would have need to use TRT in his 30’s. Vitor Belfort in particular was found guilty of using steroids years prior to his recent resurgence as a result of testosterone therapy.
Given the inevitable storm for the sport of MMA surrounding continued TRT allowance, it is much to the benefit of the UFC that the Nevada State Athletic Commission recently chose to put an end to all TRT usage. As the notoriously acclaimed “fight capital of the world”, Nevada’s bold stance on
testosterone therapy is beginning to instigate a chain reaction, causing similar policies to be embraced by athletic commissions on a global scale. The UFC itself proclaimed that they will take action to make sure that Nevada’s policies are upheld to the highest possible degree during events that take place in parts of the world that have not yet adopted so firm a policy on TRT usage. It would seem that the UFC and Nevada State Athletic Commission have saved the martial arts world from decades of asterisk filled record books. The future looks much more bright for the emerging sport, and fans can look forward to clean drug tests and a clean history for the UFC.