There’s been a trend over the past couple of years for a number of fighters to seek out Therapeutic Use Exemptions in order to use Testosterone Replacement Therapy, and UFC president Dana White let it be known following the latest UFC Event in In London on Saturday night that he’s not happy about it.
“If you asked me three months ago, it’s legal. It’s sports science, but everybody figures out a way to take a great thing and cheat and make it bad,” White told the press after ‘UFC On Fuel TV 7’. “What guys are doing, I believe guys are doing, is jacking up this stuff through the roof through their entire training camp then getting back down to normal levels right before the fight, which is cheating.
“I hate it. I don’t like it. I’m going to fight it. And if you are using TRT in the UFC, we’re going to start testing the sh*t out of you through your entire camp. I truly believe guys are cheating on it, and I don’t like to see a natural gifted athlete go in and fight against a guy who has been jacked up on TRT for three months.”
So what exactly does the UFC president mean by all this? Let’s take a look at how legally using TRT works and what the potential loopholes are.
In order to be granted a TUE in the first place fighters have to prove that they have abnormally low levels of testosterone. While there are certain conditions that can cause this, they are very rare. However, a more common route to having a testosterone deficiency is via the use and abuse of steroids.
Regardless, the end result is that if a fighter is granted a TUE to use TRT it means that they are not supposed to abuse the treatment, but rather are only legally allowed to elevate their levels to within what’s deemed a normal range within the ratio of 1:1 and 6:1 (Testosterone / Epitestosterone level).
The main problem with this up until this point is that fighters who are being granted this TUE exemption to use TRT are generally only being tested close to their fights, and as White suggests, this gives them the opportunity to elevate their testosterone levels way beyond what’s legal during their training camps, and then lower them back to a normal range in time for the official fight test.
By vowing to test these legal TRT users more regularly during their fight camps White hopes to stamp out this alleged practice.
Some of the best known fighters currently using TRT via the TUE route in the UFC include Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir and Dan Henderson.
No one can say with any certainty who, if any, of these fighters are currently “cheating” the system, but what we do know for sure is that out of that short list Belfort has previously been suspended for steroid abuse back in 2006 following a fight in PRIDE, while Sonnen was also suspended from the sport after a post-fight drugs test following his first fight with Anderson Silva back in 2010 showed his T/E level was 14:1 (this was before he was granted a TUE).
Personally, I’ve been uncomfortable with the idea of TUE’s from the start and anything that can be done to discourage the practice or at least clamp down on those who are attempting to abuse it can only be a good thing in my book.