The last couple of years have seen testosterone replacement therapy run rampant in mixed martial arts. It recently came to light that Vitor Belfort was on TRT during his win over Michael Bisping on Jan. 19. Chael Sonnen has used TRT. Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Frank Mir, Alistair Overeem, and Nate Marquardt are others, just to name a few.
Following his UFC on Fuel TV 7 Knockout of the Night finish of Stanislov Nedkov, Tom Watson called TRT use an “epidemic” in the sport and called out the “cheaters.”
“If you want to do it, you can't put it in your chin and you certainly can't put it into your heart,” Watson declared. “You want to take drugs? You want to be a cheat? Let me fight you and let's see what happens.”
During the UFC on Fuel TV 7 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White said he plans on taking a hardline stance on the controversial therapy’s use in his organization.
“If you asked me three months ago, it’s legal. It’s sports science, but everybody figures out a way to take a great thing and cheat and make it bad,” said White.
“Those of you who know what testosterone replacement is, if you’re older, your testosterone starts to get lower. They can give you testosterone to get you back up to (the level of) a 25-year-old. What guys are doing, I believe guys are doing, is jacking up this stuff through the roof through their entire training camp then getting back down to normal levels right before the fight, which is cheating. I hate it. I don’t like it. I’m going to fight it. And if you are using TRT in the UFC, we’re going to start testing the (expletive) out of you, through your entire camp,” White added.
Testosterone replacement therapy is legal. Fighters who are using it apply for a therapeutic use exemption from the athletic commissions.
“We’re regulated by the government. We have the strictest regulation in sports. If other sports were under the same regulations as we are, there would be a lot of guys getting busted left and right in other sports. I’m not taking a jab. I’m just being honest. The TRT thing is legal. The commission lets guys use testosterone replacement therapy. I believe that guys are cheating on it,” said White.
“I truly believe guys are cheating on it, and I don’t like to see a natural gifted athlete go in and fight against a guy who has been jacked up on TRT for three months.”
Cheating isn’t the only concern White has about TRT. It’s a relatively new therapy. Not a lot is widely known about it, and there’s the philosophical question of medically enhancing athletes through hormone therapy. Just because something is legal, doesn’t always make it right.
“The other problem with TRT, the other problem that I have – You get four guys together, four smart guys who could have an educated conversation about testosterone replacement therapy, they’ll give you four different answers. When it’s that vague and that many people don’t understand it, nanograms and this ratio to that ratio, and all this (expletive). When you sit down and you start talking about it, it’s not fair. It’s not fair. And if your testosterone level isn’t high enough, maybe you’re too old to fight,” said the UFC president.
White plans to implement testing throughout training camps on fighters using the TRT exemption.
“We’re regulated by the government. Testosterone replacement therapy is legal. Well, I think we should test guys all the way up until their fight to make sure that the entire training camp their limits are where they’re supposed to be, they’re at the legal limits their whole camp,” said White. “These guys that get exemptions for TRT, we’re going to make sure we test you through your entire camp.”