...OH, ONE MORE THING - PLEASE BOOKMARK US & VISIT DAILY!
By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The growing list of fighters undergoing testosterone replacement therapy is fast becoming a major concern in the sport of MMA, with UFC 146 headliner Frank Mir becoming the latest known user of the treatment. It's a situation that makes many uneasy, as fighters are being granted therapeutic use exemptions for what is essentially the base hormone for all steroids, making them legally allowed to increase their testosterone levels in training and fight time - so long as it doesn't go "too high."
Still, many don't trust that the testing procedures in place are enough to actually determine whether any of the fighters on the treatment are abusing it, and the system for determining if someone truly needs it is questionable as well. For Mir, however, he believes it's a situation where if there's a medical opinion that it's needed, then it has to be ok considering the other medical exemptions that are allowed.
"I believe TRT - if it's medically founded - I'm not here to sit there and tell someone they can or cannot do something," Mir said in an interview with UFC Central on Sportsnet. "I think it falls under the same jurisdiction as a bronchial inhaler; if a guy has asthma. Now, if I were to take a bronchial inhaler, I don't have asthma, could it help out my conditioning? Probably, from what I understand."
"But if you need it and you have asthma, you're allowed to take that, right? Sounds like it falls under the same thing. It's either all across the board we need to eliminate everything, or realize that if we're gonna allow medical exemptions, they're there."
Penick's Analysis: This is where the issue becomes very murky, and it's one of the reasons that there needs to be a much more thorough process for determining if a diagnosis for low testosterone is a legitimate one. Yes, TRT is a legal and medically prescribed treatment. However, low testosterone is an affliction that is repeatedly said to afflict 2% of the male population in the age ranges of fighters in the UFC. 2%, yet it seems that every time you turn around another fighter is clamoring for TRT. And the argument about medical exemptions is a valid one, and breaks down to where you draw the line and why. Should TRT be allowed for fighters who have messed up their endocrine system due to previous PED use? Are the commissions going to employ an endocrinologist to examine the medical records of these athletes seeking exemptions? It's a situation that doesn't have any easy answers, but it's a system that is absolutely ripe to be taken advantage of, and on this issue there are many who believe these fighters are simply gaming the system to use a performance enhancing substance. For those completely clean in the sport, it leaves them in a very bad spot, as many of their colleagues are then essentially being allowed to cheat via a loophole in the system.
[Frank Mir art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
DON'T GO YET... WE SUGGEST THESE MMATORCH ARTICLES, TOO!
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
Interested in joining MMATorch's writing team? Send idea for a theme to your column (for Specialist section) or area of interest (i.e. TV Reporter) along with a sample of writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.