BREAKING: Nevada State Athletic Commission Votes Unanimously to Ban Testosterone Replacement Therapy

February 27, 2014
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Vitor Belfort

The Nevada State Athletic Commission on Thursday set a new course for the controversy over therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy for mixed martial artists.

The NSAC voted unanimously to ban applications for TUEs for testosterone replacement therapy, effective immediately.

Any athlete that applies for a license to fight, whether boxing, kickboxing, or mixed martial arts, will now be unable to even apply for an exemption. If said athlete has a TUE from any other state, the commission will not recognize it.

If a fighter already had a TUE in Nevada, the fighter will now be unable to apply for a new exemption when they apply for a renewed license to fight in the state.

The commission noted that because fighter licenses terminate at the end of a calendar year, there are no licensed fighters in the state of Nevada that currently possess a therapeutic use exemption for TRT.

Several high-level fighters that are known to have fought with TRT TUEs in the past will now be unable to even apply for the exemption. Fighters such as Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, and Frank Mir have all fought at one time or another with a TUE.

Vitor Belfort, however, has become the lightening rod for the controversy surrounding TRT usage, primarily due to the timing of his employment of TUEs for TRT coinciding, coincidentally or not, with his career resurgence.

Belfort is sure to planted front and center once again as a result of Thursday’s commission decision, as he is slated to challenge UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas.

Belfort has yet to apply for his license for the fight, and is now unable to get a TUE for it.

UFC president Dana White has already stated that if Belfort were to be denied a TUE for the fight, and then declined to follow through with the bout, “that would be a problem.”

Upon finding out about the vote, White and the UFC issued a statement supporting the commission’s decision.

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT),” said White. “We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field.

“We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling.”

The Nevada commission made its decision following a presentation from Dr. Timothy Trainor, who is the commission’s consulting physician. The commission also cited the recent urging of the Association of Ringside Physicians to ban the practice.

“Steroid use of any type, including unmerited testosterone, significantly increases the safety and health risk to combat sports athletes and their opponents,” read the ARP statement. “TRT in a combat sports athlete may also create an unfair advantage contradictory to the integrity of sport. Consequently, the Association of Ringside Physicians supports the general elimination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy.”

Dr. Trainor pointed out that there is a legitimate medical condition called primary hypogonadism that is a diagnosis for men with low testosterone, but added that it is not at all common, and that it is fairly easy to test for if it is naturally occurring by comparing other related hormone levels via a series of blood tests.

If it is determined that there was some mitigating cause for the low testosterone level, something other than a natural occurrence of primary hypogonadism, the situation becomes much more difficult to assess. Dr. Trainor noted that head trauma, brain tumors, and performance enhancing drug use or abuse (such as steroid use) are but a few factors that could cause low levels of testosterone, but he was unaware of an effective method for pinpointing the cause.

One factor that Dr. Trainor passionately pointed to as reasoning for his suggestion to do away with applications for TRT exemptions in combat sports is his belief that performance enhancing drug use or abuse is a strong contributing factor to low levels of testosterone.

“In my opinion, medical opinion, and this is my opinion, yes, I would assume that if someone had tested positive to performance enhancing drugs or is known to have used performance enhancing drugs, I would assume that’s the cause of their low testosterone,” said Dr. Trainor.

“I certainly don’t want to reward people that have used PEDs [when] that’s what is causing their hypogonadism.  I certainly don’t want to reward them by saying here’s a testosterone exemption.”

Both Dr. Trainor and the commission seemed to be in agreement that even if a fighter’s low levels of testosterone were being caused by something other than PEDs, they might be doing a disservice to that athlete by allowing them an exemption for TRT so that they could continue to fight.

For instance, if a fighter’s low testosterone level is caused by head trauma, would it be appropriate to allow that athlete an exemption so that he could re-enter a competition where there was a likelihood of suffering further head trauma?

“Being granted a license to compete in combat sports is not a God-given right,” added commissioner Francisco Aguilar, the commission’s chairman. He also added that for the fraction of fighters that request an exemption, mitigating the issue chews up much of the commission’s limited resources and funding.

Not only did the commission unanimously approve the ban on TRT exemption applications, it was cognizant that if the Nevada commission truly wants to effect change across the sport, it would have to be proactive in reaching out to other athletic commissions so that other locations don’t become a de facto “TRT hotspot.”

“I think it is going to be incumbent upon this commission to ensure that we are proactive in reaching out to other commissions to encourage them to do the same thing,” said commissioner Pat Lundvall. “What I don’t want to see is for other commissions or different promoters to have different rules than we do.”

“That’s a good point,” added Skip Avansino, another longtime Nevada commissioner. “It certainly seems to me that we don’t want a magnet somewhere else for these things to be granted.”

To be sure, the first major domino has fallen for those that have long called for an end to legalized testosterone replacement therapy in combat sports, characterizing it as a crutch at best and outright cheating at worst.

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  • Pablo Vasquez Jr.

    Crap Belfort is crewed lol

  • Michael Sloan

    YES! YES! YES!! F&@king YES!!!!

  • DamianCross

    I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if hundreds of MMA careers suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

    • whatcanisay?

      V: (Vitor)

      Unfair, me wanna fight in Brazil from now on.

      BJ: (Baby Jesus)

      Why?

      V:
      Cause they love me there..

      BJ:
      sure they do Vitor sure they do

  • Mark McDowall

    Wonder how long before Belfort is “injured” and pulls out of the fight.

    I think this is a huge move for them…being one of the more powerful AC’s in the country…I think alot of others will follow suit.

    • AXE MURDERER

      I was thinking the same thing, so who would step in to replace vitor? Machida, Jacare, Rockhold? Dana better have someone on standby…

      • Mihael Hajdin

        Machida vs Weidman makes sense now, since Vitor wont fight..

      • sevendays7

        Jacare has my vote.

        • Maddawgmar

          Why Jacare? Rockhold beat him. I think Machida.

          • sevendays7

            Jacare vs Wideman…that could be a real dog fight….Jacare has looked great in his last few fights. I like Machida as well but I just think Jacare vs Wideman will be the closer more exciting fight.

      • Mark McDowall

        I think Machida is the obvious choice with Jacare just having surgery today. I think Vitor might as well retire if he doesn’t make this fight…

  • AXE MURDERER

    The Phenom gonna lose fo sure now!!! I wonder how ths will affect the vegas wise guys odds???

  • David Huenecke

    Im just waiting for the headline where dana flips his shit and screams his head off about how NSAC is ruining sports and so forth.

    • Piotr

      As backwards as Dana is on a lot of things, he’s actually for a TRT ban.

    • Raphael Mastro

      And then changes his mind a month later ? lol

      • Ryan thompson

        Is that a question or Statement?
        It can’t be both.

    • Ryan thompson

      He already came out in support of their decision.

  • manadon23 .

    This is a great day for MMA.

    • Mihael Hajdin

      Great day for all combat sports but a terrible day for chees-its, I mean Vitor..

      • manadon23 .

        Lol.

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Great news!

  • peedubya

    Great new.

    Is there actually any legitimate TRT users in MMA?

    I was thinking mainly about Bigfoot? I know he is a monster, but he had real trouble with low testosterone recently. Is that a petuitary thing, or the same as everyone else?

    • Hakim

      I’m pretty sure he has acromegaly.hes usage of trt is probably one of the only cases in the ufc of legit usage.(although he was caught in the past with steroids..)

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Funny Uncle Chael and Hendo are fighting in Brazil this spring, with TRT exemptions. Next thing you know, it’ll be UFC-TRT Brazil, a special league for the Special Needs fighters.

    • Ryan thompson

      Do you believe that they knew the future or are you snarky guy? Did you have the same snarky comments for Vitor fighting in Brazil?

      • Hugh Shakeshaft

        This wasn’t really on my radar until TRT started getting press. But the proof seems to be in the pudding. Vitor backed out of a huge payday. Actions speak louder than words.

    • lowlb

      Exactly!
      I do not think it’s fair to make Vitor any more a villain than Chael who certainly appears to be massive these days.
      This article talk about (at one point) correlating a fighter’s career resurgence due to TRT.

      Chael get’s his ass destroyed by Damian Maia and then four fights later, dominates Anderson on the ground. …that’s a resurgence!!
      And then get’s busted for elevated testosterone levels.

      Chael’s interviewing Dale Erhead jr. on fox tv and we’re pointing the finger at Vitor??

      Also that was a bad-ass heal kick he/Vitor used on Rockhold, that was TRT or skill?

      • Hugh Shakeshaft

        No doubt the heel kick was a brilliant move and not a function of TRT. But if Vitor were so confindent in his striking why did he back out of the fight?

      • Ryan thompson

        Listen up s–t bird, Vitor tested positive for steroids before getting TRT, Sonnen has not tested positive for steroids.
        Do you understand the difference?

        Very good,Sonnen did in fact interview Dale Jr.
        Now tell me what does Sonnen interviewing Dale Jr have to do with this topic? Are you thick in the head?

  • thb

    You all realize that this means nothing right? If someone has an exemption they have to fall within normal limits. Without the exemption they have to fall within normal limits. The people with TRT already know how to not exceed the parameters. There isn’t any way to test for usage, only abuse.

    • peedubya

      At the very least it is a start. And there are certainly going to be fighters who use TRT because it was within the rules, and now its not an option they wont risk continuing.

      • thb

        The risk is no different with exemption or without. They have to have it down to a science to not exceed normal limits either way.

    • Joseph Johnson

      was thinking the same exact thing. It is funny how everyone is “so excited” about this yet they have no idea what the reality is

    • Manuel Lopez

      Within normal limits or not if trt is detected you’re not allowed to fight isn’t that how it works? I’m confused :(

      • thb

        Cant test for testosterone use as its naturally occurring in the body. They can only test for elevated levels

  • Pat Garret

    Good

  • Matthew J Lynch

    I believe you can test for the esters used to extend the half life of the test preparation beyond the very short Half Life of test suspemsion. I BELIEVE, being the fundamental phrase here; I don’t know that for sure. But I would imagine that would be fairly easy pensive…As long as their levels remain within the predetermined acceptable reference range and all you’re checking for is a total test or total test to epitestosterone ratio, it won’t change squat for those who decide to ignore the ban.

  • Joel Nunez Luis

    What you’ll see is those fighters that are on TRT fighting less and still using TRT,training on it and by the time they actually fight their be on normal levels of TRT, is a drug and drug_ addicts know how to trick the system,dont get me wrong the banning on the fight capital of the world is really a very good start.,,,,Fighting is a beautiful art when is done with respect and based on pure and natural skills.,,,

  • Kris-tyahn

    I’m starting a pool, pick a day that you think Belfort will get “injured” & unable to fight Weidman for the title. Then requesting Dana/UFC to have the fight in Brazil or somewhere where he can get his drugs…. I mean TRT! $20 per day/pick! Also, you will need to select a time in case someone chooses that day as well, closes to the time within mins, wins!
    Good luck!

    • taylor2008

      Ha! I agree highly with your statement. I wonder if Vitor emptied out his shorts yet when he heard that.

    • deepgrim

      haha you didnt have to wait long

  • taylor2008

    Oh oh….Vitor is about to get owned by Weidman. I am a fan of Vitors but Weidman is a strong wrestler with decent boxing and jits. Without TRT Vitor will get owned.

  • lowlb

    I do not think it’s fair to make Vitor any more a villain than Chael who certainly appears to be massive these days.
    This article talk about (at one point) correlating a fighter’s career resurgence due to TRT.

    Chael get’s his ass destroyed by Damian Maia and then four fights later, dominates Anderson on the ground. …that’s a resurgence!!
    And then get’s busted for elevated testosterone levels.

    Chael’s interviewing Dale Erhead jr. on fox tv and we’re pointing the finger at Vitor??

    Also that was a bad-ass heal kick he/Vitor used on Rockhold, that was TRT or skill?

    • Mark McDowall

      And The bisping fight…the last few could be pointed to that…or it could be just skill. If he fights weidman and is as dominant without the TRT then there’s your answer…if he either doesn’t fight or gets his butt handed to him then we have a different answer.

    • Seth

      We will never know how much of his “comeback” was TRT and how much of that were his skills. But if he steps down from a title fight (title fight he wanted for last few years) I think that shows us which one was bigger factor.

  • Collideoverme

    Just been announced! Vitor has stepped down in the title fight vs Weidman! Will be Lyoto Machida now.

  • Get2DaChoppa

    How many careers will this end?

    • Hugh Shakeshaft

      It’ll be interesting to see won’t it.