Failed drug tests and performance-enhancing drug (PED) use are nothing new to mixed martial arts (MMA) ... or any other competitive sport for that matter.
But, no one could foresee that just six weeks into 2015, MMA would be shaken to its core after seeing four high-profile Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) athletes test positive for banned substances and/or PEDs.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones caused an outcry when it was discovered he had tested positive for cocaine prior to his title fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 last month. A few weeks later, that story was trumped after news broke that one of the most beloved champions in the sport, Anderson Silva, had been flagged for steroids for his fight against Nick Diaz (whose post-fight drug test revealed he had tested positive for marijuana) at UFC 183.
And earlier today (Tues., Feb. 10, 2015) UFC in particular and MMA in general received yet another blow when it was revealed that Hector Lombard had tested positive for steroids following his win over Josh Burkman (also at UFC 182).
Needles to say, fans, media and fighters alike didn't react well to the astonishing number of failed tests in such a short period of time. Among them is UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who fears that PED use will escalate to the point of causing a death inside the Octagon.
Check out her comments below (via Yahoo! Sports):
"People need to realize that is a weapon and they're bringing a weapon into the cage and they're making our sport unsafe. The day that a person dies in that Octagon and the person who killed them tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, we're going to have our first homicide case. It's going to destroy the whole sport. Do you think that one little pay-per-view getting a couple of extra views is worth that? No, it's not [expletive] worth it. I think there needs to be as strict of drug testing as there is for the Olympics, maybe even harder."
Upon hearing that Anderson Silva had flunked his drug test, Rousey admits she was heartbroken to the point of almost being moved to tears. And it's understandable, as Silva has always been placed on such a high pedestal by all of his peers.
Still, Rousey doesn't excuse his or anyone else's use of PED's, and revealed that her greatest fear is that the drug abuse will only escalate further to the point of actually causing a death inside the cage. Something she says will undoubtedly destroy the sport.
"This is a combat sport, and we're not trying to hit a ball harder. These drugs can make you hit a person harder. The only reason we're able to do this sport is that the level of human potential is just [low] enough that we can barely allow it. We're right at the threshold. It's not like we're getting to the point where it's, 'Oh, we're going to start to have higher world records for weight lifting.' No. We're going to be able to hurt each other more. That's what I'm worried about. I'm worried that this is going to keep escalating and escalating and escalating until somebody dies."
Rousey, a former Olympian who knows what strict drug testing is all about, continues to call for more stringent testing.
Because, aside from other issues, that is one of the major reasons a fight between her and Cris Cyborg has never been made, as "Rowdy" has gone on record and will to continue to say that she won't make an exception for a "cheater" like her.
"I've been ready to fight her at any point. She's the one who left the UFC. She's the one who hasn't come to fight me. Because she's a cheater and a fraud, the last thing I'm going to do is make exceptions for her. I'm not going to move up and make things easier for her, because she's been making things easier for herself her whole life. She needs to learn a lesson that you can't do that [expletive] any more. And I'm here to teach everybody else that that is not acceptable. Cheating and bringing a weapon and trying to hurt someone with that weapon is not a way to get a consideration made for you."
Hard to argue otherwise.
And while all of the positive tests are bad, it does signal that UFC and athletic commissions are indeed determined to weed out all of the PED users and their efforts to catch them with random, as well as out-of-competition, testing is proving to be a recipe for leveling the playing field.
You have to weather a few rough storms before you can appreciate the sunshine, right?