The loophole to legal steroids in the UFC

Matt Floyd, TSV Staff Writer

UFC president Dana White responded positively to a recent statement made by boxing and mixed martial arts’ leading doctorscalling for an immediate ban of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in the combat sports of mixed martial arts and boxing.

“The doctors came out and said they want to ban it? Well, that’s the answer,” White said to The Associated Press(AP) Monday, Jan. 27.

Testosterone replacement therapy, or what it should be called which is a physician guided steroid cycle, is granted to fighters who go to a specialized doctor to test their testosterone levels. If the levels test below normal, the fighter is supplied with steroids and can legally use them until the fighter’s testosterone levels are considered normal.

The association of ringside physicians (ARP) frequently releases position statements which are in a sense guidelines for the combat sports. Recently the ARP stated that it is uncommon for a professional athlete to have low testosterone levels and as such supplementing athletes with steroids “is rarely justified.”

Testosterone replacement therapy presents perhaps the greatest risk to fighters who are allowed to use it through a therapeutic use exemption. For a fighter, a low testosterone level is a natural bodily response telling the afflicted fighter they probably shouldn’t be fighting.

A fighter who has low testosterone levels could have got them from such excessive steroid use in the past that when the fighter stops using steroids the fighter’s body stops producing testosterone.Some who apply for testosterone replacement therapy have low testosterone from excessive or severe head trauma which can also cause the body to halt production of testosterone. And then the rarest, but most justifiable, applicants for testosterone replacement therapy are fighters who are born with a compromised hormone production system.

However, shouldn’t all of these symptoms be deterrents for fighters? If a fighter has damaged his endocrine system from past steroid use that fighter should not be given a therapeutic use exemption allowing them to take steroids until they are capable of fighting. If a fighter has low testosterone as a result of old age or, more concerning, a previous head trauma, supplementing the body with testosterone is negating a natural process. A cease in testosterone production is perhaps a process that naturally aims to prevent high risk activities like fighting.

There are numerous fighters currently receiving a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy. Of the fighters who publicly acknowledge their use of testosterone replacement therapy many are popular names in the UFC. Notably, Dan Henderson Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Antonio Silva and Frank Mir are some of the few who publicly acknowledge their use of testosterone replacement therapy.

As of recently, White has said that he is against testosterone replacement therapy, but is he willing to follow the ARP’s recommendation even if it leads to the demise of some the sports most profitable and popular fighters? For the sake of the fighters and the sport, White should do away with testosterone replacement therapy.