Given the controversy over Nate Marquart’s testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) this week and its repercussions throughout the MMA world, I thought I’d provide a rare re-post of an article from last September. The scandal, and Marquart’s subsequent firing from the UFC, shows that more conversation is needed about PED’s in mixed martial arts. Their use is more widespread than you may think.
Sean Sherk, Shane Carwin, and now Chael Sonnen–MMA athletes are now commonly included in conversations about PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). Over the last few decades pro sports has had an increasing number of scandals, and obviously use has gone on much longer than that. Reactions in the martial arts community are mixed. “El Guapo” is pretty straightforward:
They asked me b4 who I thought would use PED’s, I am just blown Away with who gets caught. What happened to good food, water and some supplements? That’s what I did, and I never had a problem with people being stronger or in better shape.
Listen, if u had shoulder surgery, or whatever surgery, and the doc tells u that u will heal faster, do It, but then do NOT fight!
This is giving the sport a bad name, everything we (MMA) do, is already “frowned upon”, like masturbating in an Airplane, sorry, had to do that, was writing and thought about “hang over”.
But serious, its very sad, and you do NOT need it. If u can’t Train had anymore because u are getting up there in age, then don’t fight, very simple. I could never look at myself in the mirror if I would have cheated, NEVER, and don’t give me the BS excuse “but everybody is doing it”, yeah, lots of people don’t use their freaking turn signal either, that doesn’t mean that I also simply not gonna do it. I use this example because those people stress me out, just don’t care about anybody else But their selves, and that’s the same as using PED’s.
Don’t care about our sport getting a bad name, “as long as I get better”. This, of course, is for guys who are proven to have used. I DO believe that there r over the counter supplements out there that raises u’r level, but If I would have been accused of using while I was not, I would find out 100 % sure, what those supplements were, why? Because that will prove my Innocence! Strange that nobody did this right? That would be proof! OK, way too many tweets, this s*** just drives me crazy. Every pro should write down exactly what supplements they take. Then When they get caught, test those products, if nothing is in there, ban him for 3 years, that will stop it, you watch. The end…. (http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news/266380/Bas-Rutten-sounds-off-on-PEDs/)
Apparently Bas doesn’t mind commentators on speed (J/K!), but it’s pretty clear where he stands on the issue: steroids and PEDs are for cheaters and are hurting MMA. Here’s a slightly different take from Josh Burkman—an excerpt from his interview on Sherdog.com:
“I was out of shape because I was in Scottsdale and I was drinking and I was partying and I wanted to take the steroids so I could get in shape faster,” Burkman said. “I cut out the drinking and the partying, and I started to develop a more healthy lifestyle and stayed in shape so that I didn’t need (PEDs) to cheat to get ahead. As the competition gets more fierce, people are going to look for an edge and that’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to get that edge.”
Having to tell the football players he coached about his positive steroid test was another experience that hit home for Burkman.
“I was coaching high school football and told my kids, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be around this season. I’m going on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ and two weeks later, I showed back up and the kids asked what happened,” Burkman said. “I had to sit the kids down and tell them what happened. It was embarrassing, but it helped me teach them a good lesson in life and it taught me a good lesson in life. I’ve become a better person, a stronger person and a better influence. Sometimes the worst things that can happen to you, you learn from them. They make you better and stronger, and I’m just lucky that happened for me.”
He says he felt guilty about it and regrets it, and I think Bas would be proud of him. This is all well and good, but Burkman went 5-5 in the UFC and is fighting his way back into the organization. Is it from a lack of talent or work ethic, or is there another issue at play? Maybe his record suffered because, in Rutten’s words, “he was the one who got caught.”
Last quote. In a Frank Mir interview, he explains his view:
“I think everything has to be a case by case situation. This is why we have laws in our civilian life. They’re not cut and dry.
“If (the fighter is) like ‘yeah, I had an injury and my competitive nature got a hold of me and I went to the doctor’ or if it was a situation where he was facing not fighting and his competitive nature got a hold of him, I don’t know if that would justify ending someone’s career.
“If the same guy says ‘yeah, I took this so I could smash skulls and I’m nuts.’ That guy’s in a different category.”
So Bas blames the athletes, Burkman blames himself, and Mir blames the situations fighters are forced to deal with. No one seems to be able to pinpoint the real problem, but I think Mir comes closest, albeit unintentionally.
See, the problem isn’t cheating. The problem isn’t competition. The problem isn’t even the more extreme “win at all costs.” The real problem is that we are a nation who likes to “smash skulls because [we’re] nuts.” Nearly EVERYONE in EVERY pursuit uses PEDs. Fighter pilots use amphetamines to stay alert during long sorties and to improve their reflexes. Musicians use marijuana to enhance their creativity and beta-blockers to calm their nerves during auditions. Students use adderall to pull all-nighters. Porn stars inject Viagra into—er—the muscles they need to perform their best.
Americans are addicted to MORE, not drugs. We are never satisfied with what is naturally attainable. Once we experience something enjoyable—driving a fast car, being complemented on our looks, or the flavor of desert—we almost always want to enhance it or make it more intense. So we burn through oil, get Botox, and eat as much sugar as possible. Naturally sports—the nexus of competition and entertainment—are no exception. PEDs in athletics are merely an aspect of a culture that has yet to learn it has a problem.
I’m borrowing ideas from Bigger Stronger Faster here. If you haven’t seen it yet, get to it. Comments? Questions? Let’s hear them.