While performance enhancing drug use in sports is always a hot-button issue, none has been hotter recently than talk about testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in mixed martial arts; well, except maybe the latest doping salvo launched at Lance Armstrong in cycling.
But with high profile fighters such as Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Nate Marquardt, and others involved in the talk about TRT, and particularly in getting a therapeutic use exemption from athletic commissions for its use, it is the topic on nearly everyone’s lips.
And the talk covers all aspects. Some say that if there is a proven deficiency that a fighter should be allowed to use TRT to bring his testosterone level up to what is considered normal. Others say that TRT should only be allowed for individuals that have a proven condition, not just a deficiency.
Most men, as they age, eventually produce lower levels of testosterone, and that can be exaggerated in athletes. Then again, someone who takes other performance enhancers can inhibit his body’s natural production of testosterone, causing the low levels.
Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture recently weighed in on the topic as a guest on HDNet’s InsideMMA, having his own particular insight into why fighters may have lower testosterone levels and how to go about TRT.
“We put our bodies through a ton working out. It’s very, very strenuous; very, very physical,” said Couture, referring to professional mixed martial artists. “So if there are athletes that are younger that have low testosterone, it’s probably because they train like crazy people to do what we do.”
Couture, a UFC Hall of Fame member, actively competed in MMA until he was 47 years of age, so he has a lot of years to put perspective on how training and age can effect an athlete.
In fact, he has had his own experience with TRT and may have a slightly different take on it than those that are talking about it in regards to going to a doctor, getting a prescription, and taking shots to supplement testosterone levels.
“There are other natural ways, through supplementation, to increase your body’s own production of testosterone,” said Couture. “You still want to monitor it with a doctor so you stay within those normal parameters for a human being and you don’t come up positive for your drug tests.
“That’s the route that I chose to go as an older athlete. I went to a doctor. I got blood tests. I measured where all my hormones were. I started supplement program through XCAP (Xtreme Couture Advanced Pharmaceuticals, Couture’s supplement company) to increase my body’s own production of natural testosterone.”
The debate over TRT and other therapies as they relate to performance enhancement is sure to rage on, so don’t be surprised to hear more about it as the arguments continue.