Well, he's not literally on steroids, but discussing them with ESPN at least. He makes a few interesting points, some I agree with, some I don't (for a thorough breakdown of White's statements, check out Fight Opinion).
White flatly contradicted Franca's claim that his injury was so severe he needed steroids in order to be able to fight. If White's statement is accurate, then perhaps Hermes didn't feel able to compete with Sean Sherk and was looking for a way out. Whatever the case, if White's telling the truth then there is some egg on my face.
The most interesting part of the interview comes in the form of White's statements about Sean Sherk. Notable quote:
White: I've known Sean Sherk for a long time. He's a really good man. He trains hard and has worked hard to get where he's at. You and me probably have six nanograms [of the steroid Nandrolone] in our system; he had 12. Other guys who've been busted for the same steroid have had over 50 nanograms in their system. What my experts tell me is, there's no way that he would only have 12 in his system. I'm not his father. If he did it, he'll have to face the consequences. People make mistakes. If your life was over every time you make a mistake, that's pretty f---ing harsh. How many times do I have to tell people not to use steroids? It's to the point where it's just stupid.
ESPN The Magazine: What are you going to do with the 155-pound weight class?
White: I don't know. Like I said, I trust when Sean Sherk tells me something, and I believe him. I'm not just saying this because I'm president of this league. He's my friend, and if he tells me he didn't do this, I believe him. He's innocent until proven guilty. He's not a liar, he's not a cheater. We'll see what happens. If at the end of the day the commission says he took steroids, then that's what the ruling is and he'll get whatever they put on him. That division will live on. This is a speed bump, and it hurts us bad. But we're going to move on.
First, does anyone else raise an eyebrow when White so cavalierly mixes friendship with business?
Second, it's not at all clear what's next for the lightweight division. My best guess is that White's waiting for some sort of resolution with the Sean Sherk case before making any definitive moves. And really, what else can he do? What's also interesting to me is that while the lightweight division for all of MMA is not really affected by the steroid scandal, the UFC's lightweight division certainly is. For all the progress and comeback this division made, a conviction of Sherk could do a lot to undo that. It puts the division in disarray and makes match-making difficult. Worse, why devote attention to a division in disrepair when the lightheavies and heavies are coming into their own?
The UFC isn't going to abolish the lightweights, but White cannot be pleased after devoting so much time, energy, and money into them. White needs to create two gameplans immediately, one with the contingent that Sherk is exonerated and one where he is not. Regardless, while the division is on ice, it makes a great deal of sense to pay attention to the heavyweights. Oh yeah, and sign Josh Barnett already.