Nate Marquardt admits to using testosterone replacement therapy, testing over threshold before UFC on Versus 4 bout with Rick Story. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
On Tuesday afternoon in an exclusive interview with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani, Nate Marquardt and his manager, Lex McMahon, cleared the air regarding Marquardt's dismissal from the UFC and his last-minute exit from a main event showdown with Rick Story this past Sunday at UFC on Versus 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Marquardt revealed that he had been diagnosed with low testosterone levels last August after he felt sluggish and not himself during training sessions. A visit to a doctor confirmed the low testosterone production in his body, and a doctor recommended that the former UFC middleweight contender start on testosterone replacement therapy, a treatment made famous by another former UFC middleweight contender in Chael Sonnen.
Marquardt fully disclosed the condition to the various commissions he fought under from last August to present day. This included adhering to a strict testing policy by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission to go off treatment for eight weeks to confirm the diagnosis of low testosterone in the lead-up to Sunday's bout with Story. Once the diagnosis was confirmed, Marquardt started back on the replacement therapy at three weeks out from his fight. Unfortunately, that's where things took a turn for the worse.
According to Marquardt, his endocrinologist, who remains unnamed, suggested a more aggressive strategy to make up for the lost time of adhering to the PSAC's policies. The aggressive treatment ended up putting Marquardt over the accepted limits for testosterone one week before the fight. From that point forward, Marquardt was hoping his levels would subside before the final test, which came on weigh-in day. Marquardt didn't pass.
Marquardt mentioned that during the lead-up to his fight with Dan Miller in New Jersey this past March, he was required to go through the same tedious testing process, but the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, headed by Nick Lembo, had issues with the treatment that Marquardt's doctor was implementing. The board raised eyebrows when they found the treatment did not follow United States Anti-Doping Agency protocols.
New Jersey still allowed Nate to fight, raising some questions as to why that happened if they had reservations about how his treatments were being administered. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Marquardt continued to use an incompetent doctor who didn't follow protocols despite working with a professional athlete who was going to be regularly tested under such protocols.
Marquardt also brought up the fact that dehydration and rapid weight loss could result in higher concentrations of testosterone in his blood. There are a couple of studies that suggest otherwise (Viscardi '98, Booth & Dabbs Jr. '93) and others that suggest that dehydration may heavily affect a test's reading. Perhaps the latter may be a problem in this instance, but I find it odd that various doctors Marquardt talked to suggested a weight cut would increase those levels. Research doesn't confirm that conclusion. If anything, his levels should have been reduced.
I suppose the immediate reaction is... who the hell are these doctors? Why did Nate Marquardt continue to use a doctor who wasn't administering testosterone under USADA protocols? Why would an endocrinologist take an aggressive route and endanger his patient's career?
We could try to answer those questions, but the bigger issue here is Nate Marquardt himself. It was apparent in the Sean Sherk case and in every other case in which a fighter was popped for performance-enhancing drug use that it is up to the fighter to make sure everything he is taking and doing is within guidelines. Sean Sherk blamed over-the-counter supplements. Marquardt blamed over-the-counter supplements for his 2006 positive test. Others have done the same. The fact of the matter is that the doctor only assisted in helping Marquardt pave this downward trend toward dismissal. Marquardt is ultimately the one to blame.
Surprisingly, Marquardt took full accountability for his actions, stating that he's the one fighting, not the doctor. He was professional and answered all the questions laid out in front of him. It's hard not to feel for Marquardt's situation, especially after being released from the UFC for a "disgusting" thing that ended up not being truly "disgusting" at all. The real reason could be more accurately described as messing with the UFC's bottom line.
The decision to release Marquardt was an emotional reaction by Dana White, but it's difficult to look past what Marquardt has done. Chael Sonnen could easily be the focal point of a discussion on who should really be dismissed from the UFC, but life isn't fair and Sonnen didn't destroy a main event fight hours before it was set to take place. Sonnen's situation lost the UFC some potential revenue. Marquardt's incompetence lost the UFC real revenue. That's the difference. Is it right? It doesn't seem like it, but that's life in the UFC.