- DRUG USE IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

June 11, 2007
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Editorial Column by Matt Wiggins for MMAWeekly.com
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style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Before I start this column, I
just want to re-iterate one thing – this article will express MY OPINIONS. My
opinions are in no way, shape, or form the opinions of MMAWeekly.com or anybody
associated with MMAWeekly.com. These are just MY opinions.
style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'> 

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>That said… style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'> 

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>A few weeks ago, UFC lightweight
fighter Melvin Guillard tested positive for cocaine use. The Nevada State
Athletic Commission subsequently suspended him for eight months. 

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Unfortunately, this is not a new
trend in mixed martial arts. Though Guillard’s positive test has been for what
many might consider the most "hardcore" drug, it is by no means the
first time a professional MMA fighter has tested positive. Nick Diaz, Diego Sanchez
and Joe Pearson have all tested for marijuana. Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett,
Stephan Bonnar, Kit Cope and Vitor Belfort have all tested positive for
steroids. Kevin Randleman was suspended by the NSAC for providing fake urine
for his drug test, due to his taking banned painkillers and antibiotics for a
severe lung infection he was battling. Mark Kerr’s various drug addictions were
well documented in his documentary, "The Smashing Machine."

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Whether we like it or not, drug use
– both "performance enhancing" and "recreational" – is
increasing among fighters. Some might be a one-time mistake, as Melvin Guillard
convinced the NSAC was his case. Others might be a terrible addiction, as we
all watched Mark Kerr battle. Others might be just to stay alive, as was with
Kevin Randleman. Right or wrong, liked or disliked, drug use at some level is
here.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Every time a fighter tests positive,
the Internet forums are ablaze with discussion: Did XX drug help him win? Is XX
fighter OK? How long will XX fighter be suspended? That’s BS! XX drug isn’t
that bad! It shouldn’t even be illegal! and more. 

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>There has been a lot of conversation
– praise, criticism and uncaring – about how drug testing is being done.
According to MMAWeekly’s Ivan Trembow, href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/dailynews.asp?articleid=3919">only
6 of the 18 fighters at UFC Fight Night 9 (where Guillard tested positive) were
tested. There were no tests at UFC 69 or 70. Why? The NSAC conducted the
tests at UFC Fight Night 9, but certainly can’t test outside of their
jurisdiction. UFCs 69 and 70 were in Houston, Texas and Manchester, England.
The ruling athletic commission in Texas didn’t provide testing and there was no
commission in England.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>So, should the UFC, or any other professional
MMA organization for that matter, do its own testing? Some feel yes. Others
feel no. 

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>What ends up being a large topic of
interest and conversation are the drugs themselves. I remember reading many
Internet forum threads literally laughing at suspending Nick Diaz. He tested
positive for marijuana after upsetting Gomi in Pride. The consensus was that
Diaz should have a more lenient punishment than those who have tested positive
for "performance enhancing" drugs such as steroids. To paraphrase a line
from Robin Williams, "Those that have used marijuana find that it enhances
many things: taste, colors, sounds…but PERFORMANCE certainly isn’t one of
them."  

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Steroids – now that ends up
being another interesting point of discussion. They can be had and used
medically. Prescriptions can be given for them. And, if used properly, the
harmful side effects can be minimized or even eliminated. Many argue that too
many fighters are already on the juice and using them is necessary to just
"keep up."

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Then there is the point of where a
fighter lives. Say a Dutch fighter from Amsterdam is fighting in Las Vegas. He
uses marijuana on a regular basis because it is legal where he lives. He
doesn’t use it while he is in the States, but due to his consistent use, it
takes too long to get out of his system and he tests positive when he fights.
Why should he be penalized for doing something legal at home just because it’s
not legal where he’s fighting, when he didn’t do anything illegal when he was
where he fought?

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>I’ve also read that drugs like
marijuana and certain steroids aren’t "that bad." They’re not the
"hardcore" drugs like cocaine, heroin, growth hormone or prescription
painkillers. So they should not be treated as harshly as the "hardcore"
drugs.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Many of these issues are pretty big
and could each be discussed far longer than I care to do in this article. Here
is my stance on the issue:

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>In America, certain drugs are
illegal. Possessing, selling, using, transporting, etc. these drugs will get
you in trouble. It’s just simply against the law. Whether you agree or not,
you’re not supposed to do it. And if you do decide to possess, use, etc., and
get caught, you’re going to get nailed. You can’t choose what laws you’re going
to follow and which ones you’re not.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>It’s sort of like driving down the
street. There is a posted speed limit. You might not agree with said speed
limit, and think it should be higher. So you choose to exceed that speed limit.
You might get away with it a lot. But at some point, you’re going to get caught
in a speed trap and that police officer is going to write you a ticket. Don’t
expect to get out of it just because you two disagree.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>The same goes for fighting. If a
commission bans a substance, then you can’t have that substance in your system.
If you do and get tested, and test positive or get caught trying to
"rig" the test, you’re going to get busted. It’s as simple as that.
And if the rules for the commission are different than the rules where you
live, you better make sure you’re ready to pass the rules where you’re
fighting. Alcohol is legal all-day long (as long as you’re of age) in most of
the world. Go to the middle-eastern country of Kuwait with a bottle of whiskey
and they’ll put you in jail so fast it’ll make your head spin. Don’t think that
telling them "It’s OK at home" will change their minds.

style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>I’m not going to tell you what to do
or not to do. I’m not your mother and you’re old enough to make these

"right or wrong" decisions for yourself. As for myself, I don’t condone
drug use. Never have. Never will.

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard. style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:black'> 

Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength
coach and author living in Cameron, NC. Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a
strength moderator at mma.tv, columnist for MMAWeekly,
and an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts
Training
. His site, Working Class
Fitness.com
, is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result href="http://WorkingClassFitness.com/">workout programs for "regular
joes."

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