In the wake of 2011, the mixed martial arts world has once again had the issue of PED's brought to it's forefront. With Chael Sonnen's recent debacle with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Shane Carwin's name popping up on a high profile list of a supposed steroid purchasees, and now Nate Marquardt very publicly losing his job over it, we are yet again left asking the question; what's really going on?
Today's modern sports fan is not unnacustomed to hearing the phrase performance enhancement. In fact we hear it so often that it has almost become a staple of our sports world vocabulary. Ten years ago the term performance enhancement would have been thought of by most readers to mean just that, performance enhancement. Conjuring up thoughts of hard training sessions, nutritional manipulation, and physical therapy rooms filled with ice baths and adjustment tables. Not today. Today the term automatically draws thoughts of Balco, Berry Bonds, and backroom dealings of magical pills and potions capable of turning the average athlete into a superhuman wrecking machine. Whether it be smashing homeruns in record setting numbers, obliterating track times, or in our case systematically rearranging someone's face into resembling the ground chuck of backyard barbeques. Steroids have become just as much a part of modern day athletics as weight rooms and wrestleing mats.
Many a time have we been let down at the announcement that our favorite athlete who hangs on our wall in the form of a fat head charicture has failed a drug test. We're told that in fact it wasn't a combination of God given ability and a life time of hard work that produced this phenomenon, but a vial and syringe filled with chemicals. Our hearts sink as we peel down the fat heads, delete our screen savers and desktop images, and come to the realization that we've been had. The question is have we really been taken? Have we really been mislead? Has this amazing athlete cheated his way into superstardom or has he just done what he felt he had to in order to keep up with the hype. Added that one last substance to his laundry list of legal supplements in order to keep the six figure paychecks coming in.
There is an unfathomable amount of pressure placed on elite level athletes to keep the highlight reels filled with jaw dropping footage. Fans are a fickle bunch with a what have you done for me lately mentality towards their favorite athletes and MMA is no different. In fact the pressure on mixed martial artists may even be greater than that found in other sports. MMA is a sport that demands everything from a fighters body. The job description of a professional fighter is not one I can say that I would be thrilled to wake up to everyday as much as I like to try and convince myself I would. The punishment one is required to dish out onto his opponent in the cage let alone absorb is enough to send any MLB outfielder into hiding, and the paycheck is only a fraction of what is required of athletes who throw a ball for a living. Even a brief stent as a professional baseball player would allow one to compile a nest egg capable of dropping the jaw of the easter bunny himself. A brief stent in professional mixed martial arts and one would be lucky to walk away without having made friends with a good plastic surgeon and enough cash to pay the rent for a few months.
MMA is not a sport for the weak of heart, even the fans have to posses somewhat thick skin. Think of getting up off the couch and stepping into a locked metal cage across from a man who's only job is to hurt you, and he who knows exactly how to do it. Is it possible we are little too trigger happy to condemn these men when the word performance enhancement is mentioned. What about athletes like Alistair Overeem who have to fend off alligations of "enhancing" more than they have to fend off their oppenents left hook when they have never so much as had a test come back questionable. I learned a long time ago that posessing a midsection capable of moonlighting as a cheese grater does not mean your medicine cabinet is freshly stocked with syringes. Just as many athletes have tested positive positive for banned substances who would struggle to beat Roy Nelson in a swimsuit competition than those who could step onto the Mr. Olympia stage and not look out of place. When we open up the black book of astericks we find physiques of the likes of Tim Sylivia, who admittidely dipped into the world of performance enhancers strictly for the purpose of wanting to look more like what the heavyweight champion is "suppose" to look like. Kirill Sidelnikov "baby Fedor" who competed under the Affliction banner before they realized selling t-shirts was a much easier business model to master than fight promotion tested positive for stanazol, while his physique looked much more like a represenative for krispy creme than testosterone.
Low body fat and good gentetics are responsable for many more pecs and six packs than performance enhancing chemicals. Fighters are often put in a lose lose situation when it comes to their physiques and the performances they display. Look too muscular and your obviously "on" and have just yet to be caught. Look to soft and your obviously not working hard enough and won't find your face on the wanted list of high paying sponsors. Most fighters choose to take the accusations and big paychecks which is probably the smart move. The most interesting case may be that of Roy Nelson who has managed to make a solid name for himself while possesing the largest belly to ever enter the octagon. Instead of hoping up onto the cage after a knockout and hitting the standard front double bicept pose, Roy has patented the post knockout belly rub. And as the saying goes, you can't truly appreciate the sunny days without a few rainy ones. Without the bellies how could we ever truly appreciate the abs. Hopefully we as fans can use our influence to push the fighters, promoters, and sport in the right direction. A direction that applauds the muscle of hard work, accepts the belly of a good fighter, and encourages fair play all around.
Is TRT "testosterone replacement therapy" a huge problem under the surface for MMA?
Yes this is going to be a big problem for the sport (33 votes)
No this will all blow over (8 votes)
TRT and PED's will eventually become regulated and allowed (17 votes)
58 total votes