UFC Middleweight Vitor Belfort has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance inside the Octagon lately with back-to-back KO's of top contenders Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. Unfortunately outside the cage he's been back on his heels, defensively reacting to questions about his controversial use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
The 36-year-old Belfort failed a drug tests for steroids following a Pride event back in 2006. Given his history many fans and pundits are critical of the decision of the Brazilian commission to grant Belfort a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) allowing him to use TRT.
"The TRT is my private life, but it's become public, and it's now a big, big thing. I believe that all the good things I'm doing, people kind of forget it and have a tendency to not pay attention or give credit for the way I'm winning fights, the way I'm working, the way I'm being an example for my Blackzilian teammates. I'm putting in the hard work, and I'm not done yet."
Belfort's decision to speak to Morgan was all the more remarkable given that he'd responded with angry threats when Morgan asked him about TRT use at a post-fight presser following the Rockhold fight at UFC on FX 8:
"I recognized my mistake," Belfort said. "Some people even said I shouldn't apologize because I did nothing wrong. But I told them, 'You're wrong. I'm going to apologize.' I think you recognize when you're right and when you're wrong. Sometimes, you may actually be right, but it doesn't mean you're always right. So if you make a mistake, you just recognize and admit it. I think I just felt like everybody was attacking me. And right there, in that fight, I shocked the world. Nobody expected me to win the fight with a head kick. I expected everybody to recognize my hard work. But when something came up about TRT instead, it kind of hurt my feelings."
Belfort went on to clarify why he uses TRT and what he believes it does and does not do for him:
"So basically what TRT is for me is to not be at a disadvantage," Belfort said. "People talk like it's a cheating process, but it's the opposite. Low testosterone is something that can cause serious health problems and even death. You can have problems, big problems, if it's untreated. So the treatment is for you to live longer and have a better life by having less health problems. People think TRT is about increased sex drive or performance-enhancement. It's not that. It's about life. It's like women and progesterone. They don't get pregnant if they don't have any progesterone, so they need to replace that hormone. It's similar with TRT. It's just for me to have better health, a better life."
Coincidentally as Belfort's interview was posted the California State Athletic Commission was deciding to ban TUE's for TRT. Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion reports:
On the meeting's agenda, there was this item: "Subcommittee on Therapeutic Use Exemption - Discussion and possible action regarding draft policy."
Rule 303 (modified text here), which was pushed to try to open up the Therapeutic Use Exemption process for testosterone use, was challenged at Monday's hearing by none other than Department of Consumer Affairs lawyer Michael Santiago. Santiago happens to be the only lawyer worth anything in DCA's legal office, for what it's worth.Karen Chappelle, the ethically-challenged attorney from the Attorney General's office in Los Angeles who loves to interfere in combat sports regulation, backed the current behavior regarding allowing fighters to use testosterone despite not having any text passed by the state legislature. Santiago, who rightfully has a professional dislike & disregard for Chappelle's opinion, said that until there is a statute/regulation on the books regarding testosterone that the commission should not be using an ‘underground' policy of approving T usage. He argued that testosterone is considered a banned substance.
The end result is that fighters like Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and Frank Mir will not be allowed to use testosterone while fighting in California until a law is on the books that explicitly spells out approval for T usage. Chappelle was not a happy camper about this and the UFC will be furious about this development given how many guys they have fighting in California who love testosterone. Vitor Belfort's sympathy plea for continued testosterone usage means he won't be fighting in California any time soon.
I have to applaud the CSAC's decision. TRT is little more than a legal fig leaf for the use of steroids and as long as some fighters are allowed to use it and others are not it presents and unfair advantage and an ethical quagmire.