Yeah, I missed the glory days of PRIDE – I came in around the end. I don’t have the exact same level of affection (though I surely have some) for the crazy screaming lady, the post-fight music or the soccer kicks. What I do have, and I think too many people lack, is a healthy disdain for their lax (read: nonexistent) drug testing policy. Is it funny to watch Mark Coleman roid rage like hell as Fedor tries to check on him? Yes. Is it worth it? No – not in terms of prestige, accurate records or the safety of either fighter. I’ve always focused my criticisms of steroid use to cheating and the harm done to the user, but Dana brought up an aspect I often overlook after UFC 108 (hat tip to MMA Weekly):
“They can test us however they want to test us. That’s up to the athletic commission. I don’t like steroids in fighting,” stated White. “When you go out and you hit a (expletive) ball over a wall, who gives a (expletive)? Who cares what you’re on? I don’t care what you’re doing or what you’re on. When you can get on top of a guy and elbow and punch another guy in the face you should be tested, and you shouldn’t be using performance enhancing drugs.”…
“Let me tell you this; if every other sport were under the same drug testing guidelines that we are there would be no (expletive) football on Sunday, and there would be no baseball.”
No, not every UFC fighter is tested for every card, but if you consider that a fight card employs about as many athletes as a single baseball team or the starting lineups of a single football team, and that over 20% of the athletes are tested on every single fight card, you get an idea of the true stringency and frequency of the tests administered to UFC athletes, particularly in comparison to The Big Three major leagues in American sports. While there have been and continue to be significant differences between the NFL and MLB regarding steroid testing (the NFL’s policy being vastly superior then and now), both pale in comparison to the necessary (do we really want to give those ever-present anti-MMA forces the ability to call our fighters ‘roid-raging freaks’?) and, in some occasions, self-imposed (see Chris Leben’s positive test against Bisping in Britain – where no testing is mandated and Zuffa was not compelled in any way to pay for, conduct or publicize the results of any test) scrutiny that mixed martial arts endures in the United States.
Wow, those were two epic sentences. I better not even get started on the difference in penalties relative to earni…. aw, shit:
“(Expletive) baseball players get caught, they’re like, okay, I know you’re making 65 million dollars this year, we’re going to sit you out for 30 games. Alright, I’ll be down in the (expletive) Bahamas, call me when my suspension is up. When it happens to these guys, they lose the ability to make a living and the sponsors they lose. They lose credibility. It’s different in the fight game. I think the athletic commission has done a great job and sent a message.”
While the last sentence is arguable, the preceding illustration is not – fighters, be they boxers or mixed martial artists, stand to lose more via being busted for PED’s than any other group of professional athletes. First time offenders are often slapped with six month or year long suspensions, which are immediately honored by any other athletic commission worth a damn – in the NFL, on the other hand, it’s for four games, and until very recently, you could still win postseason accolades. Just ask Shawne Merriman. Man, I hope the Chargers get starched in the playoffs. But that’s a tangent we can’t afford here.
I like my MMA sans performance enhancing drugs. What say you?