Vitor Belfort and the Great TRT (and TUE) Debate

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 by Tony Reid






















It seems that this subject is hotter than Josh Barnett’s piss after beating Randy Couture at UFC 36. It’s hotter than a whore on dollar night. You get the picture. Whether we are talking about Vitor Belfort in particular or any number of mixed martial artists using TRT it is a touchy subject and like with any touchy subject people’s opinions are all over the board. I can only give you my opinion…

Here’s the thing about TRT or Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Its intended use was to help old dudes (and women as well) keep their, ahem, manliness (and womanliness) within an acceptable range into their golden years. It wasn’t intended to thirty something mixed martial artists to take to be able to throw deadly spinning back kicks well past their should-be prime. Looking at any facts there should be no need for any person within fighting age (think early 40’s or younger) to need this replacement therapy.

Whether we are talking about Belfort or any other fighter or athlete for that matter, the purist in me wants to immediately lash out and throw venom at all of these athletes that are taking a “short cut” to the body I want! I did sip on some Haterade this morning, my apologies. But I digress, the real crime here is the fact that these athletes are gaining an advantage over their more honest and natural counterparts. The more specific issue is that mixed martial artists are gaining an advantage through drug use over opponents in order to hit them harder, not hit a ball harder.

But as I step back and look at the larger picture anyone with a shred of common sense realizes that there are a countless number of fighters using some type of performance enhancers within the sport. If someone wanted to avoid the hassle of answering to the media, commissions or the organizations they would stick to good old HGH. It really is a matter of where we want to draw the line. I recently had a conversation with a weight lifting friend of mine and we agreed, on some level, that anything above any beyond regular food and beverage consumption could, on some level, be seen as a performance enhancer. Protein Shakes, Vitamins, hell Gatorade products…it all technically enhances your performance. Obviously it’s a matter of where we are comfortable drawing the line (personally, professionally and legally). I’m not proclaiming that I have all the answers but what I do know is that there should be a level playing field…period. What’s legal to one athlete should be legal to the next athlete and so on.

Participants in any major sport will always be trying to get any small (or large) advantage they can and TRT is the new hot button example of this thought process and mindset that had been going on since the beginning of competitive sports. Take a quick look back at the turn of the century (last century kiddos) baseball players. There were guys sharpening their cleats (Ty Cobb) so when they slid into a base they would/could severely injure the player from the opposing team. Pitchers have been scuffing the ball and hitters have been corking bats for decades. Players in the 60’s pitched while high on acid (Dock Ellis). Players in the 70’s took uppers and downers to cope with the long, marathon like season. We all know what happened in the late 90’s and after (think McGwire, Sosa, Bonds and well, everyone playing today) and these are just tip of the iceberg examples from one of the more tame sports in our culture. You can imagine what goes on behind the scenes in football and other more physical sports.

In fairness, only in the neighborhood of 10 fighters on the UFC’s 300 plus fighter roster have TUE’s which is basically in line with the numbers for the general public. But the question remains…Do we or will we have a revisionist history on the subject of performance enhancers from steroids to HGH and TRT? If Vitor does fight his way back to another title shot and somehow takes out the Middleweight king (Silva or otherwise) do we praise him now and tear him down in a few years when we finally come to terms with the weight of this situation? Will he be the Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire of MMA? The reason Belfort is such a lightning rod or poster boy for TUE and TRT is because of his past PED bust, the UFC’s more than likely refusal to license him in Nevada (the fight and title fight capital of the world) and the fact that he’s not some random mid card or prelim guy, he’s one of the all-time greats, a guy who was the Mike Tyson of the early UFC days (as early as UFC 13) who is still going strong and in the title picture as much as any point in his career. I would like to think we will get out ahead of this seemingly runaway train before it gets any further off the track. After all, there are a bunch of pot smokers out there that we need to bring to justice.