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The Case for One-Year Suspensions for Steroid Use

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Steve Sievert of The Houston Chronicle makes the case via Dana White.  Notable quote:

Taking that into consideration and talking with Dana White at length about the subject have influenced my opinion. A one-year suspension, which has the effect of stripping away a fighter's livelihood for a significant amount of time, and the fine imposed by athletic commissions produce a legitimate penalty for a first-time drug offender in MMA.
"When these guys in MMA go out and compete, they're tested by the government. And, when they get caught, they lose their ability to make a living. Imagine if you did something wrong and you had to lose your ability to make a living for six months to a year. People keep asking me, 'What else are you going to do to these guys?' What the (expletive) do you want me to do to these guys? Drag them into the street and have all the villagers stone 'em to death? You take this guy's ability to make a living away for a year ... you're tarnished once people think you did steroids, then you have to fight your way back up to the top again. It's like starting at rock bottom."

I'm still grappling with the fine line between being too punitive and too lax when it comes to dishing out punishments for steroid use.  I've suggested previously that perhaps if the UFC paid their fighters more they'd be less inclined to use steroids, but upon reflection that argument is deeply flawed.  The pressure to succeed only increases with exposure and notoriety and ultimately, that's one of the main triggers for steroid use.  Paying more

But suspending a fighter for a year is also rather harsh, at least on the face of it (and when fighter's are denied cornerman's licenses, that just adds insult to injury).  The main argument used to support this penalty generally relies on the "punishment fits the crime" angle.  Some suggest it's a deterrent, but I only buy that for those who were toying with the idea of using steroids.  In other words, it'll keep the fringe away, but the hardcore won't be affected by this.  The decision to use steroids is ultimately an irrational one if you believe the health warnings and take into consideration the various sorts of penalties, so why on earth do we expect those who use steroids to think more rationally about the penalties (if such a thing even exists) when the penalties become stiffer? At some point - and this differs for us all - the penalties get harsher and harsher, but with diminishing returns.