Curiouser and curiouser. How does Vitor Belfort improve his muscled physique? While we know he's been on TRT for quite some time now, we don't know if he's passed his drug tests in the run up to UFC 173. Belfort's legal council apparently released a statement on Belfort's behalf that the fighter would be voluntarily removing himself from the card, because he would not have time to meet Nevada's new drug testing standards (although that raises serious questions as to his plans had they simply denied him an exemption independently). Belfort has since countered that he never authorized such a statement to be made, and that he was removed from the fight at the UFC's bidding.
Belfort bows out, Machida in at UFC 173
Following the NAC's decision to ban TRT, Vitor Belfort has removed himself from UFC 173. Machida stepped up to take his place challenging for the 185 lb. belt.
As though things weren't complicated enough, MMA Fighting reveals that Belfort was randomly drug tested on February 7, while attending the World MMA Awards. The results of that test have recently been made known to Belfort, the UFC, and the NSAC. But, because Belfort had not yet applied for a TUE for UFC 173 and had not otherwise allowed the NSAC to disclose any testing results, they are going to remain sealed from the public, unless Belfort himself releases them.
MMA Fighting reports that they have contacted Francisco Aguilar, Chairman of the NSAC, with a public records request, but the request has been denied as Belfort's drug screening was not a mandatory part of his licensing process. It does somewhat beg the question: why have non-mandatory drug screenings for fighters if you can't make public decisions based on their results? It could be that their decision to stop giving TRT exemptions was brought about, in part, because of Belfort's inability to adhere to "normal" testosterone levels while being treated. And it could be that the UFC pulled Belfort from their middleweight title fight because Belfort failed a drug test.
However, without public disclosure fans and media are left with mixed messages about a fighter's lack of preparation and a promotion's lack of faith in their fighter's preparation. Eventually actions like this cast something of a pall over the process of drug testing in general as it's a sign that not every potential positive steroid test is going to be made public, even in the case of athletes who are being tested regularly based off their current or past drug regimens. Whether he passed or failed, fans and media should be pressing Belfort to make his testing results public as a point of transparency in a time when MMA seems to need it most.