“They’re all on steroids! Everyone.” Nate Diaz
“I know all the fighters, and they are all on steroids. All you mother fuckers are on steroids.” Nick Diaz.
The USADA Anti Doping program for the UFC went into effect July 1st, 2015. Before that, the state athletic commissions handled all testing procedures. And before that, in the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan, the fighters were not tested at all. If you were a fan of that era, you remember vividly the scary monsters that lurked in Pride.
The vaunted TRT saga was a fun loophole around the performance enhancing drugs clause. In a sport where both skill and physical prowess matter, those metrics move in opposite directions. The older fighters struggle to keep up with the speed, explosive power, and reflexes of the younger fighters. The younger fighters struggle against aging veterans because of their experience and refined technique. Fighting itself is a progression, and it’s hard to judge a fighter on anything other than where he is at that moment. TRT allowed older fighters to boost their testosterone levels, effectively turning back the clock on their performance potential. So their gains in technical skill got to intersect with the ability to recover faster, and build lean muscle mass like they were in their mid twenties.
Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen, and of course, Vitor Belfort. All obtained a pass to receive the treatment, and reaped the rewards. Randy fought until he was 48. That is absolutely insane. Shout out to the Alien Bernard Hopkins, who last boxed at 51. Chael Sonnen transformed into a ripped monster, and had a resurgence. And then there was Vitor. Any hardcore fight fan knows what you mean when you say “TRT Vitor”.
“Yeah, he’s good. But could he beat TRT Vitor?” Not even Bruce Lee would take that fight.
TRT Vitor existed around 2013, and was the equivalent of Terminator in the cage. Before I get to that, it should be mentioned that Vitor got caught using steroids in Pride. That’s how bad it was. His test came following the first ever Pride event in America, where he lost to fellow future TRT benefactor Dan Henderson. That makes Vitor Belfort the only person in Pride who ever used steroids.
TRT Vitor walked through Luke Rockhold with a first round spinning hook kick decapitation for the ages. No one walks through Luke Rockhold. Will pause for Michael Bisping jokes. Not only was Vitor an Adonis, his raging testosterone kept him aggressive and in your face from the opening bell. He got to combine the technique that took thirty or so years to refine, while running his 25 year old system. The results were terrifying, and a reminder that maybe it’s best we let nature run its course in terms of aging.
Enter USADA. The United States doping agency. The guys who test Olympians. And since all those guys are clean… good enough. The fans wanted guys off the juice, and were tired of seeing clean fighters eat the damages. The truth is, USADA is a very legitimate operation. We can only speculate, but their entry into the space alone probably cleaned a lot of guys up. The physiques have certainly changed. It’s been three years now, here are the results. The following is the list of USADA testing failures from the UFC, per the USADA website.
Carlos Felipe, Jesse Taylor, Nick Roehrick, Guido Cannetti, George Sullivan(2), Kelvin Gastulum(THC), Ricardo Abreu(2), Francisco Mir, Justin Ledet, Lyman Good, Matheus Nicolau, Viscardi Andrade, Tom Lawlor, Felipe Olivieri, Brock Lesnar, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, Adam Hunter, Abdul Kerim Edilov, Nate Diaz(public warning Cannabidiol), Chad Mendes, Jay Dee Penn, Tim Means, Diego Brandao, Breno Faria, Yoel Romero, Gleison Tibau, Jessica Penne, Amanda Ribas, Fransisco Rivera, Nick Diaz(3 whereabout failures), Ben Rothwell, Amanda Lemos, Josh Barnett, Cynthia Calvillo(Cannabinoids), Ion Cutelaba, Azunna Anyanwu, Tukhugov Zubaira, Ruslan Magomedov, Jim Wallhead, Carls John De Tomas, James Mulheron, and Cro Cop.
So they’ve busted a couple stoners, 40 cheaters, and ran off Nick Diaz in three years. They should’ve simply given Diaz a pass, seeing as there aren’t a surplus of actual ninjas in MMA. There are some pretty big time names on that list though, for sure. Fighters are being randomly tested, and tested at events. Some of their means are a tad invasive, but it does seem to be working. Not everyone is on steroids anymore.