Whether they do it to make themselves bigger, faster or stronger, or simply to help training injuries heal, far too many of the world’s best fighters take the easy way out.
Performance-enhancing drug usage is pervasive in MMA. If it seems like there is a flood of positive tests, consider what it might be like if all state athletic commissions implemented random, unannounced testing.
The sheer number of cheaters who would be caught would dwarf anything that is going on now.
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has been an outspoken critic of PED use by fighters. She has long been a fan of legendary former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and said the news that he’d tested positive for two anabolic steroids hit her hard.
“I was heartbroken to hear that,” Rousey told Yahoo Sports. “I wanted to cry.”
Rousey, a two-time U.S. Olympian and a bronze medalist in judo at the 2008 Games in Beijing, has long been outspoken in favor of stricter testing of MMA fighters.
She told Yahoo Sports that she believes that the first time a fighter tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug, he or she should not only be banned for one year, but also should forfeit 100 percent of his or her purse to the opponent.
A second positive test, she said, should result in a lifetime ban.
“People need to realize that is a weapon and they’re bringing a weapon into the cage and they’re making our sport unsafe,” said Rousey, who is scheduled to fight Cat Zingano at UFC 184 on Feb. 28. “The day that a person dies in that Octagon and the person who killed them tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, we’re going to have our first homicide case. It’s going to destroy the whole sport.
“Do you think that one little pay-per-view getting a couple of extra views is worth that? No, it’s not [expletive] worth it. I think there needs to be as strict of drug testing as there is for the Olympics, maybe even harder.”
There are myriad legal issues that need to resolved before the sport’s major promoters, the UFC and Bellator, can implement their own year-round testing programs. Unfortunately, most state athletic commissions don’t have the budget to test randomly the way it is needed.
Though many fighters are being caught by Nevada, California and a few other states that are trying, many others get away with it. The fighters have to know by now that once they’re in camp, they’re likely to be tested if they’re fighting in Nevada.
And whenever you know you’re going to be tested, even if you don’t know the specific day, you can plan for it. Thus, it’s not uncommon for a fighter turned cheater to take PEDs after a bout to accelerate the healing process and improve his or her capabilities before heading into the next camp.
Then, the fighter can cycle off as camp starts and can pass a drug screen even though…