How big is the performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem in mixed martial arts (MMA)?
Very big, according to Renzo Gracie. In fact, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight insists (almost) every MMA fighter is on steroids because the fact of the matter is, you can't compete at such a high level without them.
From his conversation with Tatame (via MMA Fighting):
"Everybody is taking (steroids). The difference is that Anderson (Silva) probably lost control of when the substance would be out of his body. Fighters who don't use (PEDs) can't compete in this sport. There are some exceptional guys, like Frankie Edgar and Chris Weidman. Those two never took anything. I watch them closely. Everybody takes (steroids), except them. But they are rare cases."
Of course, Weidman and Edgar are both students of Renzo's, so make of that what you will.
After Anderson Silva tested positive for Drostanolone and Androstane for his UFC 183 fight against Nick Diaz, the MMA world was shocked that a fighter who was held in such high regard as "The Spider" would stoop to that level.
According to Gracie, those substances are hard to catch, which is why he was surprised Silva was popped.
"I don't understand much about steroids, but I heard that substance is hard to catch. For whatever reason, [Silva] was caught. I don't know if he took it longer than he should have. The problem with those things is that you develop an addiction, both physically and psychologically."
The epidemic is real.