UFC President Dana White has taken a stand against testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT), announcing that in his opinion usage is "cheating," even if fighters are getting it through legalized means such as a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).
TRT is a hot and controversial topic in mixed martial arts these days. Some believe it's a performance-enhancing substance and should be illegal; others think as long as fighters have their limits within the allowable range of whichever jurisdiction they are competing in, there is no problem.
Many fighters have publicly stated their opinion on the subject in recent months, and for quite some time now White had taken a hands-off approach to the subject, saying it's a problem that falls under the responsibilities of the athletic commissions.
It seems now that those days are over, as at a question and answer session with media members in London on Friday (Feb. 15, 2013) following the UFC on FUEL TV 7: "Barao vs. McDonald" weigh ins, White exploded when the topic of TRT came up, taking a stance entirely different from what he has gone on record saying before while giving fair warning to the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters on his roster that are on TRT.
MMA Opinion was on the scene for White's rant:
"TRT has become a way for people to cheat. If this is what your normal level should be and then you have guys training at huge levels (of testosterone) for their whole camp then tapering down to get to normal levels before the fucking fight, that's cheating, and I don't like it anymore."
"There are plenty of guys in the UFC that are naturally gifted and talented fighters. If you're testosterone levels are too low then you're probably too old to be fighting, stop fighting! "
"We can test everybody. I'm telling you right now, if you are using testosterone replacement therapy, get ready motherfuckers because we're going to test the shit out of you."
That's a lot to digest, but White wasn't done. When asked what has changes his opinion on TRT in what seems like overnight, the UFC's head honcho went on another curse-filled tirade.
"Some things recently have led me to believe that people are fucking cheaters, people are taking good things and turning it into a bad thing and if you want to play those games then guess what, we'll play!"
"There's so much shit out there. Right now there's banned substances and we follow the regulations and we're going after the banned substances, TRT was never one of them and they would be tested leading up to the fight to make sure the levels are good. If you're on TRT now, you're going to wish you weren't. We're going to test the living shit out of you."
"You have guys that go in there 100% natural with his talent and natural ability, against someone on TRT, basically someone that's on steroids. I'm absolutely 100 percent against TRT and now I'm going to start fighting it 100 percent with the athletic commissions and I want nothing to do with it."
What exactly White has planned for this additional testing is unknown. But it certainly seems like a step in the right direction. There is a large contingent of people who believe fighters abuse TRT during training camps to help get an edge, and then tone back down to normal levels around fight time to avoid any complications with drug tests.
A possible solution for this specific problem would be to test fighters who knowingly are using TRT randomly year-round to ensure levels are within normal ranges at all times and fighters aren't reaping the benefits of jacked testosterone levels throughout camps.
A number of the UFC's biggest stars including Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Forrest Griffin and Frank Mir are currently using, or at one time have used TRT, and White warns these fighters and all the rest that he is coming down on them with an iron fist.
It's particularly interesting that these comments from White come not long after it was revealed Belfort had used TRT in his UFC on FX 7 fight with Michael Bisping last month. There was an outcry from the MMA community wondering why Belfort was granted a TUE for TRT when he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a 2006 bout under the Pride banner - an extremely legitimate question and one that still goes without an answer.
While White has no official power when it comes to actually outlawing TRT from the sport (that duty lays in the hands of the Athletic Commissions), his comments are very telling of the overall skepticism regarding the subject, and many will be happy to see the UFC president speak out against TRT.
Many fans are against fighters receiving therapeutic use exemptions for TRT, and White's recent comments only add fuel to the fire for those who believe TRT shouldn't be allowed for MMA fighters.