No more than 12 hours after the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to ban testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, a world title fight became the ruling’s first causality. The UFC announced that Vitor Belfort had pulled out of his May 24th middleweight title fight, recognizing that “he needs an extended period of time to become licensed in the state of Nevada.” Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Now, I think the majority of MMA press and fighters share my view that this is a good thing, IF the Commission and takes the next logical step towards Olympic-level testing. Does it mean that certain careers may now be cut short (i.e. Phenom, Sonnen, Hendo, Mir)? It’s possible. It’s also possible that these fighters will make their way to Bellator (who will be holding their first event in Nevada in April) or WSOF where they can fight outside the jurisdiction of the NSAC. There hasn’t been any indication that any other state commission is ready to make a ruling similar to Nevada’s, so it may be awhile before TRT is gone from the sport.
It’s a tough subject to get a grasp on, because of the overall issue of performance enhancing drugs. I for one am one who wants all sports and all athletes clean. As a former athlete (emphasis on the former), I know the work I put into my sport (distance running) and I know what I was able to achieve with the tools my body had. I would have been livid back in school if I found out that the reason some of the guys that passed me were able to was because of chemicals. It’s the easy way out. Now, here comes TRT that appears to be a medical treatment for a legitimate condition. But with that comes the question of determining the condition and causes and it’s really just a mess.
The NSAC, and subsequently the UFC, banning TRT will only work if this is the first step. The only way to (pretty much) clean up the sport is to move towards the WADA model of drug testing. You’ll never eliminate doping from sports, sadly. The have-nots (like me) will always try to find a way to make themselves into the athletes they wish they were. (This is not, by the way, a personal admission of PED use. Although, at this point it couldn’t hurt at my weekly volleyball games). More importantly, it will be vital to see what the UFC does with the other fighters on their roster with past waivers for TRT use. If they don’t make sure those guys are clear of the therapy, all of this will be nothing but showboating and undermine any credibility that Dana White and the UFC may have built in the fight against PEDs.