UFC 146: Can Alistair Overeem Still Get Licensed?

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

It's been the better part of a week since the Nevada State Athletic Commission reported that the UFC's #1 Heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem had failed a surprise drug test after a press conference for UFC 146. Despite the near-universal condemnation of fans and the clamor for the UFC to book Mark Hunt to face champion Junior dos Santos, the promotion has been somewhat suspiciously quiet about their plans for the bout.

Michael Schiavello points out that Overeem's test results are not necessarily a smoking gun:

"You know, while we're talking about the subject, Kenny, I just wanna chime in here on a couple things that have been playing on my mind, the last week or so, since the news of Alistair (Overeem) broke. Alistair doesn't have a license with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), so how are they testing him in the first place when he doesn't have a license with them? By what jurisdiction are they testing him? And ‘B,' everyone seems to be hanging Alistair out to dry. They've been nailing him to the cross and crucifying him, but it's still two months away from his fight. You know, he hasn't technically cheated. Because, unless he pisses hot on the fight night, how could he possibly have cheated? There's still an opportunity he can get from the 14:1 down to the allowed 6:1 level by fight time. But we're calling him out as a cheat, two months out from a fight?"

Could it be that's because they think that Overeem could actually still be licensed for the bout?

Bas Rutten was the first to hint that something might be happening, on Twitter:

I hear we still might c the JDS/Overeem fight? Haha, awesome. Let me get more info

Zach Arnold breaks down Overeem's current situation:

  • Overeem was supposed to take a drug test in order to get approved for a fighter's license to fight Brock Lesnar on 12/30/11. Overeem missed the drug test, claiming he had to fly to Holland to attend to his sick mother.
  • The Nevada commission granted Overeem a ‘temporary' conditional license to fight Lesnar on December 30th based on the premise that he would be subjected to random urine drug testing and that he would have to go to London to take a drug test immediately so that Quest Diagnostics could examine the sample.
  • Overeem fights Lesnar and wins. He passed the pre-fight and post-fight urine drug tests. His ‘temporary' license expires after December 31st, 2011.
  • Overeem is still stuck in ‘conditional' limbo for licensing and has to continue passing drug tests in order to fight Junior dos Santos on May 26th even though Overeem isn't truly ‘officially' licensed. Overeem fails the ‘random' urine drug test due to elevated levels of testosterone at an estimated 14:1 T/E ratio. Because he's not ‘officially' licensed, he can't be suspended by Nevada but he can't be officially licensed until he applies for a license on April 24th.
Larry Pepe makes a more detailed case outlining some of these same arguments. We'll look at that after the jump.

Related Stories

Dan Henderson Would Fight Dos Santos If Offered Bout | Dana White Says Frank Mir Vs. Cain Velasquez 'Will Happen' | Junior Dos Santos Responds To Overeem Results |Fans Clamoring For Fedor Or Mark Hunt Vs. Junior Dos Santos | Alistair Overeem's T/E Ratio 14:1 | Is A Million Dollar Program The Solution For The UFC's PED Problem? | Mir Ready To Step In For Overeem | Overeem's Win Over Lesnar Should Be Overturned, But It Won't Be | Drug Issues Taint Strikeforce Legacy | Dana Responds To Overeem's Failed Drug Test |Who Will Face Dos Santos? | Overeem Tests Positive For Elevated Testosterone Levels | UFC 146 Fighters Tested By NSAC After Press Conference

More SBN coverage of UFC 146

Pepe writes at MMA Mania and first he dispenses with the "you can't suspend him, he's not licensed argument:

For those who argue that the NSAC had no jurisdiction to test Overeem because the conditional license he was granted at UFC 141 expired on Dec. 31, 2012 (one-day after the event), thanks for playing, but I wouldn't hang my future on that argument.

While the conditional license granted for UFC 141 expired, the agreement to the subsequent drug tests over the next six months did not.

But he does think there might be something to the Therapeutic Use Exemption angle:

An application for a TUE need only be submitted to the NSAC early enough for the commission to have a reasonable period of time to evaluate the request. A prudent fighter would probably submit all the appropriate paperwork and medicals a few weeks before the fight, but even the most diligent would be highly unlikely to provide the info two months before.

Accordingly, a fighter could fail the out of competition test because he had not already applied for or been granted a TUE, but appeal such failure on the basis that he had a medical reason to be on the drug in question (in this case testosterone) and that he had not applied for the TUE because the commission's own guidelines do not mandate that the application had to be submitted at the present time. Further, I expect that Team Overeem will show up in Nevada on the 24th with medical records, doctor verification and further testing in hand. What kind of testing?

Blood testosterone level testing.

T/E ratio only shows that synthetic testosterone has been used, thereby upsetting the naturally occurring 1:1 balance that is normal for most. But it doesn't tell you how much ACTUAL testosterone is coursing through the athlete's bloodstream -- only that all the testosterone in their blood wasn't provided by Mom and Dad but was increased through unnatural methods.

Overeem could argue, unlike Nate Marquardt's situation at UFC on Versus, that the actual amount of testosterone in his system as shown by a blood test is well within normal limits and therefore not performance enhancing at all. The closer the dates of those blood tests are to the date of his T/E Ratio failure (March 27) the more appealing the argument is from a public relations standpoint.

For example, the Reem might walk in on the 24th and say "I was prescribed testosterone by my doctor when he discovered that I had low testosterone and we were sure to keep track of my levels and keep them in normal ranges. I fully intended to disclose my usage to the commission when I applied for my license and submitted an application for a Therapeutic Use Exemption, all of which I am prepared to discuss today."

Read Pepe's complete analysis at MMA Mania.

If Overeem can manage to get licensed the UFC will have truly dodged a bullet but one has to wonder what the rampant use of TRT does to the credibility of the Athletic Commissions.

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