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The Ban Of TRT In UFC Fighting Not Good For The Sport

By Gregory Watley - Posted: 03/06/14 10:15PM EST
Vitor Belfort

UFC Champ Vitor Belfort (Photo: caras.uol.com.br)

Recently the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NAC) made the decision to stop granting therapeutic use exemptions (TUE's) to UFC fighters who use Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Consequently, UFC has decided to uphold the NAC's ruling. Here are a few questions that concern me. First, anyone not familiar with TRT can simply do a web search and this is what you will find, it is used by fighters at least who alleges their bodies do not produce enough testosterone on its own, so athletes use it to get them to normal competition levels. If this is legit, is it fair to ban these fighters who use this steroid?

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Second, how does this decision affect the UFC and MMA? Here are a few known high-profile fighters who had previously been granted TUEs: Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, Todd Duffee, and Vitor Belfort. I mention Belfort last because this decision has the most immediate effect on him and what was supposed to be his upcoming UFC fight. Before this announcement, Belfort was scheduled to fight in the middleweight division (UFC 173). During the last 3 years, he has fought 7 times in 2 different weight classes (middle and Light-heavyweight class). During that time he only lost twice; to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. Belfort has now withdrawn from the fight, stating advice by his doctor that he needs to train for a time without the use of TRT in order to be safe. As far as UFC 173 goes, Lyoto Machida will now step in to fight Chris Weidman (former UFC Light Heavyweight champion).

Vitor Belfort is 36 years old. He started fighting professionally when he was just 19, and has had a successful career. He is now considered an "Elder Statesman" in the sport, and he has used TRT as a main factor to his resurgence and relevancy in the sport. Pundits attribute a lot of his success to the use of TRT. I hope he can continue to excel without the use of this steroid to prove his doubters wrong. Quite arguably, there had not been a more exciting fighter to watch the last 2 years than Belfort.

Other fighters listed as alleged users of TRT are headliners of the sport of UFC, and generated a lot of revenue as well as attracted large crowds to cages across the country. Would The UFC be better off if these guys were not fighting? Forrest Griffin is lauded along with Stephan Bonnar with making The UFC what it is today. Both are in The UFC Hall of Fame, and one is a known TRT user, while the other, Stephan Bonnar has tested positive for banned substances in the past. Chael Sonnen can sell out fights more than any other UFC fighters. It seems the UFC has made plenty of money and benefited from these fighters who used steroids.

There are some fighters who have come out against the use of TRT in professional MMA; and without a doubt, it has become a hot topic in UFC fighting.

To look at another sport-Baseball. A strike in the mid-90's almost killed America's pastime, and may have happened had it not been for a few players you may heard of-Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds. These athletes along with others intrigued and sparked the interest of an entire nation in their quests to smash more baseballs into stands, more than anyone in the history of the games. Baseball is what it is today because of these men. Each of them has been linked to steroids as alleged users of banned substances. None of them will probably make the baseball Hall of Fame, yet baseball owes them practically everything for saving the sport, and its success today.

It's very American of us to be able to enjoy the show these athletes give us, leaving us wanting more. They put their bodies and lives on the line every time they perform. Yet, when we no longer need them we feel no shame in casting them from the pinnacles from which we placed them. 

This is the age of sports that we live in...It's a technological age where new PED's are created and used faster than the rule makers can detect them and inevitably ban their use. It's also the age where Athletes are some of the highest paid professionals and most famous people on the planet because of what they can do-whether it's with a ball, or inside a cage. It's dangerous, but exciting. It's entertaining and if it takes using performance enhancement drugs to satisfy our craving for the greatest showing in sports so be it.

By Jeff Van Hoose; Editing by Greg Wattley 

Follow Jeff Van Hoose on Twitter: @The_Hoose

Follow Greg Wattley on Twitter: @Bigballashotta



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