This column is filled with 99 bummers, and Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) price hike ain't one.
Okay, that's not entirely accurate, but bear with me for a second. In actuality there were far less than 99 drug-related stories in mixed martial arts (MMA) this year. However, each one was such an unmitigated downer that, sitting here in the end of 2013, it feels as if we suffered through so many tales of chemical malfeasance that even master mathematician Jay Z would have a hard time enumerating them all.
Oh, so you're a total masochist and you want to read about a "Fight of the Year" candidate marred by a performance enhancing drug (PED) test failure? We got you covered with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva pissing hot fire after putting on perhaps the greatest Heavyweight fight in UFC history against Mark Hunt earlier this month.
How about the cautionary tale of a likeable journeyman, whose years of grinding finally paid off in a the biggest win of his career and $130,000 in "Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" bonus money, watching both his achievements and his fat bonus check go up in smoke? Don't worry hoss, 2013 provided us with just such a modern day Greek tragedy -- by way of the 1994 film "The Stoned Age" -- in the form of Pat Healy's test failure for marijuana after his UFC 159 rear-naked choke technical submission victory over Jim Miller.
Perhaps reading stories of fighters dabbling in Schedule I drugs are how you get your self-flagellating kicks? Well my punishment-loving friend, 2013 bore witness to one of the more despicable drug-related stories in modern MMA history: Nine-fight UFC veteran Paul Kelly's bust for trafficking heroin in his native United Kingdom. Truly one of the most unpardonably evil things a fighter is on record having done, with the only shame being he didn't get more time in the big house for peddling such a soul-destroying drug.
But wait, there's more!
What would another year be without MMA's perennial turd in the punchbowl: Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)? From a dark cloud of question marks hanging over TRT-recipient Vitor Belfort's incredible career resurgence at the age of 36, to fighters like "Bigfoot" and Ben Rothwell failing their post-fight tests despite receiving shots of the medically prescribed juice under doctor's supervision, 2013 had more than its share of moments that made much of the MMA community wonder why state athletic commissions, and UFC, allow fighters with a doctor's note to use the anabolic steroid testosterone.
And while these may not be the type of stories that most of us enjoy reading, we can't claim to be educated followers of the game and ignore them. Much like society at large, drugs are inextricably woven into the fabric of the sport we love. As long as athletes are convinced they can get away with achieving better results through better chemistry, no sport is ever going to be 100 percent clean.
That depressing inevitability doesn't mean we should stop trying to ensure as level a playing field as possible though. There are plenty of athletes out there who don't want to put their health at risk through use of potentially dangerous drugs. For their sake -- and to ensure the long-term well-being of dopers as well -- drugs in sports aren't a problem we can solve by turning a blind eye.
Hopefully, state athletic commission and UFC alike -- who, it should be noted, busted more drug users than state athletic commissions this year -- will ramp up their PED screening to include more random, out of competition tests.
Maybe, if stronger measures are taken to discourage dopers from starting in the first place, we'll have significantly less drug-related bummers to discuss over the coming years.
And on that note, let's take a look at MMA's "Year in Drugs" for 2013.
Drug Test Failures
1) Joey Beltran -- Suspended nine months following a positive test result for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone after his Dec. 14, 2012, unanimous decision victory over Igor Pokrajac at UFC on FX 6 (test result announced 1/10/13).
3) Thiago Tavares -- Suspended for nine months following a positive test for the anabolic steroid Drostanalone after his Jan. 19, 2013, knockout loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC on FX 7 (test result announced 2/6/13).
4) Matthew Riddle -- Cut from UFC following a positive test for marijuana, his second offense in UFC, after his Feb. 16, 2013, split decision victory over Che Mills at UFC on FUEL TV 7 (test result announced 2/26/13).
5) Lavar Johnson -- Suspended nine months by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and cut by UFC following a test result that revealed testosterone levels "consistent with the administration of a steroid" after his Feb. 23, 2013, unanimous decision loss to Brendan Schaub at UFC 157 (test result announced 3/21/13).
6) Alex Caceres -- Suspended for six months following a positive test for marijuana after his March 3, 2013, split decision victory over
7) Riki Fukuda -- Cut by UFC following a positive test for the banned stimulants Phenylpropanolamine, Norpseudoephedrine and Ephedrine after his March 3, 2013, unanimous decision loss to Brad Tavares ().
8) Robbie Peralta -- Suspended for six months following a positive test for marijuana after his April 6, 2013, unanimous decision loss to Akira Corassani at UFC on FUEL TV 9 (test result announced 4/1/13).
9) Brian Bowles -- Suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) following a test result that revealed an extremely elevated testosterone to epitestosterone ratio after his May 25, 2013, knockout loss to George Roop at UFC 160 (test result announced 6/7/13).
10) Pat Healy -- Suspended for 90 days by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board following a positive test for marijuana following his April 27, 2013, submission victory over Jim Miller at UFC 159 (test result announced 4/14/13).
12) Ben Rothwell -- Suspended for nine months by UFC after the Wisconsin State Athletic Commission discovered an elevated level of testosterone in the post-fight drug test sample the TRT-recipient submitted following his Aug. 31, 2013, technical knockout victory of Brandon Vera at UFC 164 (test result announced 10/3/13).
13) Robert Drysdale -- Not granted a license to compete in his scheduled match against Cody Donovan at UFC 167 when an out of competition drug test administered by the NSAC finds he has elevated levels of testosterone (test result announced 10/29/13).
14) Antonio Silva -- Suspended for nine months by UFC following a test result that revealed an elevated level of testosterone after his Dec. 7, 2013, draw with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33 (test result announced 12/17/13).
15) Doug Marshall -- Punishment yet to be determined by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission (PSAC) for failing his post-fight drug test following his Nov. 22, 2013, loss to test result announced 12/17/13).at (
Non-Active Fighters/Odds and Ends
- UFC veteran Tim Credeur turned himself in to Louisiana law enforcement officials on charges of possessing marijuana and an illegal firearm.
- Long-time MMA referee, and frequent third man inside the Octagon at UFC events, Josh Rosenthal was sentenced to three years in prison after issuing a guilty plea in a charge of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, as well as possession with intent to distribute after police raided his Oakland warehouse containing 1,356 marijuana plants.
- Former UFC fighter Paul Kelly was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a court in his native England for his role in running a heroin ring.
- Chris Leben was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for the prescription opioid medication Suboxone, often used to help people dealing with opiate addiction.
- Unspecified MMA fighters are among the athletes revealed to have purchased PEDs from the Biogenesis clinic.
Notable TRT Users
Of course, there is still one more major event, UFC 168, remaining on the calendar. Therefore, we'll be sure to update this list if a fighter fails his -- or her -- post-fight drug test.