Belfort, of course, has been one of the most central figures in the debate about the legal usage of testosterone replacement therapy by mixed martial artists. That doesn’t change with UFC 173, as UFC president Dana White said recently that Belfort will fight Weidman on May 24 whether or not the fighter is granted a therapeutic use exemption by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
If he isn’t granted and exemption and subsequently backed out of the fight “that would be a problem,” said White.
Belfort has been granted TUEs for his most recent fights, the last three of which have been in Brazil. It isn’t a given, however, that he’ll get one in Nevada.
The Nevada commission is reluctant to issue a TUE to an athlete that has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the past, and Belfort is such an athlete.
Belfort tested positive for 4-Hydroxytestosertone, an anabolic steroid, following a loss to Dan Henderson at Pride 32 in Las Vegas in 2006. He was fined $10,000 and suspended for nine months for the infraction.
The commission won’t make a determination about Belfort’s TUE status until they review his application for a license to fight Weidman.
Dr. Timothy Trainor, who is a consulting physician to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, on an episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines series, was adamant that Belfort would not get an exemption if he had tested positive for steroids in the past.
“If we know for sure he has used steroids in the past, it is going to get denied,” he said. “We're not going to give people a free pass because they admitted they used steroids in the past.”
Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar, however, said that Belfort’s past positive for PEDs didn’t immediately disqualify him from a future TUE and that the full commission would review his application for licensure and make the final determination.
If Belfort is not granted a TUE exemption in Nevada, White still expects him to fight Weidman on May 24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“That would be a problem if he turned it down if he doesn't get the exemption,” White told a small gathering of reporters on Thursday in Las Vegas.
“The government is gonna come in and tell Vitor Belfort what he can and can't do. And if they say he can't [use TRT], then he [expletive] can't. And he's gonna fight in Vegas and he's gonna fight Chris Weidman. Period.”