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Hey look, another argument for drug testing

James Irvin, recipient of Cage Potato’s ‘Most Cursed Fighter In MMA History‘ award, was interviewed by TSN in Canada about testing positive for methadone and oxymorphone and the resulting suspension and fine. The entire interview is brutally honest and refreshingly free of hype and trash talk, but the focus is on James’ struggle against prescription drug addiction and how he’s managed to turn things around.

“The Anderson Silva fight, I have 25 stitches across my cheek from when he blasted me,” the mixed martial arts fighter told The Canadian Press. “Every day when I look in the mirror, I have a clear reminder of what those drugs did to me and what lies ahead of me if I was ever to start using that garbage ever again.” …

The painkillers dated back to knee surgery following a 2007 fight with Thiago Silva. He was prescribed Vicodin and says he had no trouble stopping taking the pills after three months.

But the injuries kept coming. And Irvin, who at one point was training despite a broken bone in his foot, kept taking the pills.

“It wasn’t until a time that I just stopped taking them that I realized I needed them just to keep on functioning,” he said. “At that time I had become an addict and I was hooked on them.

“I never even heard the word withdrawal,” he added. “I didn’t know what withdrawals were. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know to speak to a doctor about it. I took it the wrong way, kind of the cowardly path. I just kept on using the prescription drugs, but it’s a tough push-pull kind of thing in my line of sport. Injuries are a common thing, it’s something you’re always dealing with. And when you have bad ones, sometimes you have to take those medications.” …

“I needed to get caught,” he said. “I needed to get in trouble for it and wake me up and get off of those things.” [emphasis added]…

“I’m trying to get to fighters, but it’s kind of a taboo thing,” said Irvin. “I don’t think fighters want to talk about it. Fighters definitely don’t want to admit that they have a problem with it when it’s obvious they do because more and more fighters are getting caught with the stuff and getting caught with it in them.”

Even those that belittle the efficacy, necessity or viability of testing for performance-enhancing drugs tend to see the logic of making sure fighters aren’t on PCP, cocaine or painkillers during the fight itself. I continue to believe and will continue to argue that we need more, better testing, and more consistent belittling of those that continually compete in drug-test-free environments (here’s looking at you, Alistair) – this interview, for me, cements that stance. Nobody knows where James Irvin would be today, what he would be doing, where he would be at, if he had not been caught. It sounds like both he and I are glad he was.