UFC is anomaly in sporting doping controversies

AGAINST DOPING: Clitheroe UFC fighter Michael Bisping
AGAINST DOPING: Clitheroe UFC fighter Michael Bisping
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With all the controversy surrounding doping scandals in sport and athletics, it seems extraordinarily aberrant that one of the fastest growing organisations on the planet continues to isolate itself as the anomaly.

Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Marion Jones, Dwain Chambers, Linford Christie and Lance Armstrong have all been drenched in notoriety for their respective misdemeanors and violations.

They sought an illegal edge to their performances and inevitably suffered the consequences.

But that’s not the case in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. An opportunist would furtively sweep any scandal under the carpet, but when controversy erupts in a microcosm you risk brewing a storm in a tea cup.

And that’s what has happened.

Now, it’s imperative that the UFC takes a monolithic stand on Testosterone Replacement Therapy in a bid to outlaw its utilisation.

The debate on performance enhancement in the sport has been polarised by Vitor Belfort’s usage of TRT, with the seasoned “Phenom” adopted as the controversial pariah in most vociferation.

After UFC officials revealed Belfort’s use of TRT prior to his victory over Michael Bisping in Sao Paulo in January, an air of ambiguity immediately descended on the legitimacy of his talent when dispatching Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8 with a supernaturally executed spinning heel kick.

Both fights took place in his native Brazil where the commission is new and inexperienced and seemingly harbours a lenient stance on steroid cheats. Consequently, while the brilliance of his finishes replicate something from animated gaming favourites Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, they also land him in a smoldering cauldron of doubt and discontent.

What percentage of his performance is naturally developed and what percentage is injected?

Bisping, who faces Mark Munoz at the Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester on October 26th, fell foul to a clearly pumped Belfort.

He also lost to Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen who have also experimented with TRT.

“It’s something I’m definitely against,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Burnley Express.

“If your body starts having a reduction in testosterone it means you’re getting old and it’s time to give it up.

“If you’ve taken steroids in the past and you’ve failed a steroids test then the reason your testosterone is getting low is probably because you’ve abused your body in the past and messed up your body’s own natural production.

“I’m dead against it and I feel it’s giving people an unfair advantage.

“A normal person’s testosterone is one-to-one and if you take TRT you’re allowed six-to-one, six times as much. I think it’s crazy.

“Mark Munoz isn’t on TRT, I’m not on TRT, and we’re both going in there with good old-fashioned hard work.

“May the best man win but with the Manchester crowd behind me I’m certainly expecting that man to be me.”

It promotes a clear imbalance.

It appears that Belfort’s entire lifestyle and career has been chemically enhanced.

He was fueled with performance enhancing drugs to increase his size and strength when younger, and has continued that trend as a form of acceleration, advantage and empowerment in the UFC Octagon.

He clearly has talent, but it’s been unreasonably polished through science.

The UFC needs to act with conviction in a bid to leave an unequivocal conclusion in its wake. And now the movement is taking shape courtesy of Nevada State Athletic Commission’s executive director Keith Kizer who has expressed doubts over the suitability of granting the Brazilian a Therapeutic Use Exemption for TRT should he wish to appear in Nevada in the future.

It’s a significant step with the commission being among the most respected bodies for MMA and boxing in the world.

And that may gather momentum.

With former Manchester City CEO Garry Cook taking on the role of executive vice president and managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa for the UFC, he may help force a hand in this battle alongside Dana White.

The UFC is expanding expeditiously, now it needs to catch up with the sporting world and mature when it comes to more pressing matters that impose on the organisation’s reputation.