As interesting as the discussions about TRT and steroids are there is a significantly wider issue not being addressed which I have mentioned in the comments a few times and flagged on forums. What is the reason why these guys are using TRT in the first place?
As I see it we have a big problem with the way professional MMA fighters train. If you look at modern training methods in contact sports, I’ll use the 2 I know a bit about here as an analogue, boxing and rugby.
Look at how high level boxers train they are clearly not in the gym for 8 hours a day, they are not throwing themselves into full contact sparring and doing round after round of overly aggressive grappling. They are instead listening to what sports scientists are telling them, going through well regimented training regimes and doing the right amount of combat oriented work each week to ensure they are competitive. Boxers spend more time on technique than they do getting hit by sparring partners. Boxers generally train 2-4 hours a day 5/6 days per week but they work on specific things, technique, strength and conditioning or endurance depending on their schedule. Modern boxers don’t do huge amounts of punishing road work, 20-30 miles a week is common.
Rugby players train hard and they train a lot of different ways, explosive power AND endurance are hugely important to rugby players. By and large professional players will be on the pitch for the full 80 mins, phases of play can last anything up to 15 minutes and can require constant movement, require the players to make tackles and receive tackles which will involve understanding and completing takedowns, taking hits as big as any MMA fighter and keeping good footwork, technique and spatial awareness. Rugby players train very scientifically. At the professional level as a rule players only train twice a week, they do one rehab session per week (as like, mma fighters almost nobody plays at 100%) they have a team run for 40-50 minutes one day per week and they play once per week during the season. At the national level (for example for the six nations championship currently being played or the rugby world cup) they as a general rule will keep to the same training regime however they up the intensity of training and shorten the time they train. Strength and conditioning is approx. a 40 minute session and after each session players drill technique but only for 20 or so minutes.
In the off season they work on their particular needs for their role on the pitch so some will look at weight training others work on speed but keep to a similar volume of training to the on season.
The focus in rugby is on avoiding injury as a general rule and ensuring players are able to compete throughout the season. With that said the growth in size, speed and intensity means that injuries are more and more common but NOT from training and that’s the crucial thing. Do PEDs exist in rugby? Almost undoubtedly. Are they required and common? No they are clearly not, testing in the governing bodies in the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand (the homes of rugby internationalluy) is very rigorous and we have not had a drug scandal in the sport (apart from the former England captain getting caught for dealing coke a few years back but that’s a whole other thing..)
Why does MMA have the problem. I’m sure if you look at the background of most MMA gyms and the way they train they have roots in American Wrestling which as we all know has the "embrace the grind" mentality. It has a history started in school which means people expect to train overly hard, they expect to go until exhaustion, they expect to be dehydrated, they think all this makes them better. In my book all this makes them is more susceptible to injury and serious consistent injury how do you get past injury easily and quickly? Steroids, most of these guys probably never thought they would be on them but they have wound up in that position, as I’m sure you know, if something becomes very good at assisting your training then it’s a very seductive thing and you can get deluded into thinking you can keep doing it until, one day, you wake up with tiny nuts crying into your camomile tea and wondering where it all went wrong, you talk to your coach and BOOM, TRT is your saviour.
The change in allowances and the cutting of TRT from the sport is undoubtedly a huge step forward but it only scratches the surface of the issue and does not deal with all the PEDs these guys (and girls) have access to and may have used. Regular random isotope testing is clearly the way forward here but it is expensive and it may be a little too close for comfort for commissions like Nevada.
Ridding the sport of TRT does not solve the longer term issue of the way people train though, having seen some of the recent retirements and statements relating to sparring getting too hard and training taking too much of a toll surely there needs to be a much better way of training than "go hard or go home" which I’ve seen that on the wall of far too many MMA gyms…