The use of illegal steroids and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in mixed martial arts (MMA) is always a hot bed topic of debate among athletes, media and fans.
Take Vitor Belfort, for example.
You cannot have a discussion about the UFC middleweight, without his use of TRT being called into question, even though he has received a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) prior to each of his fights. He might as well be called "The Elephant in the Room" instead of "The Phenom." Many (like this guy) suspect that he, along with other fighters, are doing shady things and bucking the system to gain any advantage they can to further their careers.
While there are those who care a great deal about the issues of steroids and TRT in the sport, including middleweight champion Chris Weidman, there are also those who couldn't care less about it. Recently re-signed to the UFC, Anthony Johnson, falls into the latter of those two categories.
The UFC light heavyweight was a recent guest on SiriusXM's TapouT Radio and shared his thoughts:
"In every sport people are using something," he told host Ricky Bones. "I mean, as long as nobody dies, nobody pulls a Chris Benoit, you know what I'm saying? I think everything is going to be fine. If it's something that can absolutely help you, I don't see what the problem is. Until that moment you go crazy on the person -- whoever it may be -- you can't absolutely blame the... I don't know. I guess it's just an iffy situation."
"If you abuse it, of course you are going to get popped for it and do stupid stuff. But if you use it the right way and you just do what you are supposed to do, then it shouldn't be a problem. But with the way the world is right now, hell you can... Everything is all messed up right now. I don't know man. I think if you can do it, do it. I don't have nothing against it. You know what I'm saying? As long as you don't kill nobody."
A cavalier response from the Blackzilian fighter, most refreshing when compared to the usual stock replies that we often hear about the subject. While Johnson is apathetic towards the topic, that doesn't mean certain athletes in the sport are above his suspicion.
"I told my manager and stuff, I was like ‘Dude, I know these guys work out hard and stuff like that,' that's what we do, but I'm like, ‘Ain't no way in hell anybody is supposed to go 25 minutes in a championship fight all-out like that without gassing some type of way,'" Johnson said. "Even if you pace yourself... Those dudes be ready for another three rounds after the five rounds. You know what I'm saying? I don't know."
"They got to be taking something. You got to take something, even if it's legal or illegal. With as much training as we do, you have to take something. I mean, it doesn't have to be illegal, but you have to do something, because you just can't say ‘I'm going to to home and go to sleep' and just wake up in the morning and feel better. It doesn't work like that."
Bones brought up a recent article on CagePotato, where Jon Mariani suggests that if PEDs were in fact legal, that would help level the playing field in MMA as others would follow suit. Johnson agreed with the notion, and while prefacing that he was about to "say something stupid," he let a new suggestion rip, saying if salaries in MMA were comparable to Major League Baseball (MLB), then maybe there would be less cheaters within the sport trying to get ahead.
"I think so too," he said. "The one thing that he didn't say is that you got guys like A-Rod and all them. They making millions per game. We making a couple thousand. They look at us and be like, ‘Man that's pocket change for me.' Hell, I'm probably about to say something stupid but I'm about to say, either pay us like them (MLB) and then we won't have to use it, or let us use it so we can get to that level. One or the other... Let us do something."
While there are only a very small percentage of fighters making major money in MMA, none of them are coming close to what the top athletes in MLB are making nowadays. However, Johnson suggesting that PEDs would have less of a presence in MMA if fighters made more money is a lot to digest, and opening the doors for rampant drug use in order for fighters to advance in the sport and gain higher salaries is clearly never going to happen.
Have a listen.
Johnson will make his Octagon return against Phil Davis at the upcoming UFC 172 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place inside Maryland's Baltimore Arena on April 26, 2014.
For more on that fight click here.