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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Dana White's least-favorite MMA reporter is back with a damning look at the promotion's seeming complicity with sketchy drug test results for Vitor Belfort prior to a late notice fight with Jon Jones back at UFC 152.
In a piece for Deadspin, Josh Gross revealed for the first time drug test results for Belfort from September of 2012 that show a free testosterone level more than twice the acceptable range.
At the heart of Gross' piece is not only the fact that Belfort fought on against Jones despite the highly suspect rest result, but that it was also accidentally leaked to media and other industry professionals at the time with nothing coming of it. On top of that, a significant reason for silence on the part of those who accidentally received it was an email from the UFC's legal counsel threatening legal action if the contents of that email were disseminated.
In the cliff's notes version of the situation, Belfort's free testosterone - the most beneficial portion of the hormone for an individual's recovery and performance - when tested on Sept. 1, 2012, came in at 47.7 picograms/ml. The lab which tested him, LabCorp, had an acceptable range between 8.7 to 25.1 pg/ml, leading them to flag the result as high. Belfort had been given a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone use at the behest of a supposed "UFC doctor" well before it was made common knowledge, and they did not remove him from the fight with Jones despite this result.
He'd have an even higher level in February of last year when randomly tested by Nevada, even though nothing came of that failed test either.
There's much more in Gross' full report on Belfort's history, but the report raises nothing but questions regarding the UFC allowing him to fight against Jones despite having an elevated testosterone level.
It's hard to fully draw conclusions given the multitude of factors which can affect these types of results, but as the Nevada Athletic Commission's current doctor, Dr. Timothy Trainor, commented, Belfort's levels were not at all in line with what would be considered "normal."
"That wouldn't be acceptable," Trainor said of the levels showcased in the test results. "If either one of those would be above the normal range, that would be a red flag. It would basically mean the person whose lab was high has some kind of a medical condition—meaning someone who has a tumor that can make an overabundance of testosterone, which can occur — or it means that if it were someone taking testosterone, that they were taking too much.
"A normal person should never have a level above that normal range. They shouldn’t. It would be very rare or uncommon for someone to have that without it being for a disease state or someone who was taking too much."
Penick's Analysis: Gross' full piece is a must-read, so make sure to head to Deadspin to check out the full report. Again, while it's hard to draw an official conclusion, it certainly seems as if Belfort was using more than he should have been allowed even under a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone. It also seems like the UFC was more than well aware of that, and when it was leaked they intentionally tried to shut down its dissemination with threats of legal action. In other words, it makes it seem like they realized these test results were at best troublesome, and yet despite outward proclamations against PED use shoved it aside to have the fight go on.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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