twitter google

Dana White claims media coverage of drugs in MMA a “witch hunt”

In a new entry published by Steve Sievert on his Brawl Sports blog on the Houston Chronicle web site, Dana White is quoted as saying that the media’s coverage of the drug situation in MMA is “a bit of a witch hunt.”

Here are his exact words:

“It’s a hot topic right now. I think it’s a bit of a witch hunt. It’s a fun thing to talk about for the media. At the end of the day, guys have been taking steroids since the (expletive) 1960s. I think the media is making a lot out of it. Steroids have been here forever, and they’re going to be here forever.”

Uh, wow.

I think it’s real hypocritical that White is pointing a finger at the media and using a term like “witch hunt.” I’ll point to his alleged public response to Sherdog.com’s Josh Gross that was made in the Underground forum on MMA.tv:

To all the fighters out there that fight for me or another promotion: these fan boy websites come kissing your ass when they want to shoot video of you or get an interview so they can make money off you. But when you make a mistake, they will be right there to kick your teeth down your throat. One of the great things that has happened over the past 6 years is that real media covers us now.

I say it’s an alleged response from White but all indications are that the UG account that White’s response was posted under is known to be the account of a UFC employee. Unless I hear otherwise, those are Dana’s words.

My issue is this, he bashed “fan boy websites” (and I guess this site falls into that category) and praised mainstream media outlets. He claims sites that conduct video interviews with fighters do it just to make money and that when a fighter makes a mistake, we’ll “kick their teeth down their throat.” Well, when ESPN shows UFC footage on ESPNews does the ad money they make on the commercial breaks before and after the UFC spot go to charity? When a newspaper runs a UFC-related article doesn’t it cost money to buy that paper? Anytime the media — fan boy or mainstream — covers MMA there’s a chance to generate revenue.

But how are the fan boy sites any different than the precious real media? A lot of those boxing news outlets that ignored MMA for years that the UFC loves so much are covering the steroid situation just as much as the fan boy sites. Does Dana think that ESPN for a second won’t hesitate to cut the UFC’s throat if a major scandal breaks out? Unless ESPN is in bed with a sport (i.e. Major League Baseball and all the nauseating Barry Bonds coverage in which the home run record was shoved down our throats) they have no qualms about portraying a sport in a negative light.

But I’m not finished as White’s comments continued:

“When these guys in MMA go out and compete, they’re tested by the government. And, when they get caught, they lose their ability to make a living. Imagine if you did something wrong and you had to lose your ability to make a living for six months to a year. People keep asking me, ‘What else are you going to do to these guys?’ What the (expletive) do you want me to do to these guys? Drag them into the street and have all the villagers stone ‘em to death? You take this guy’s ability to make a living away for a year … you’re tarnished once people think you did steroids, then you have to fight your way back up to the top again. It’s like starting at rock bottom.”

I’m not going to get too much into whether the penalties for testing positive are just. I think they’re just about right, to be honest. My issue is that it seems White is trying to portray potentially guilty fighters in a sympathetic light. Look, losing the ability to earn income is devastating but there’s an easy solution if a fighter doesn’t want to get pinched and that solution is: don’t use drugs!

It’s not like these guys are innocent victims. The rules are clear and in many cases, the fighters either know they will be tested or that there’s a chance they could get tested. As corny as it sounds, if you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime.

I felt Dana came off real well in his recent ESPN interview where he said he was going to “bitch slap” guys that tested positive but I can’t help but feel he took a step backward with these recent comments. Anytime you sound lax when it comes to drug use then it’s going to read poorly. Dana is very protective of the UFC’s image when it comes to so many other crimes a fighter can commit (missing weight, senseless street fighting, or pulling a Noah Inhofer) but comes across real wishy-washy in my opinion on drug use, which is the biggest threat to the UFC’s continued prosperity.

But my biggest issue could be with the below comment:

It’s a fun thing to talk about for the media.

Fun!? I can’t speak for other writers, but I find writing about drugs in sports to be the single most boring thing to write about. I think it’s even more boring to read about it. Fun is writing about B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk for the lightweight title at UFC 77. It’s not fun writing about Sherk and Hermes Franca getting busted for steroids after UFC 73. Unfortunately, if it’s a story then it has to be addressed. If drugs in sports isn’t a story, nobody can write about it.

There is one thing I would agree with:

Whether you agree with White or not, this much is certain: There won’t be changes to the current drug-testing system. White is adamant that testing handled by the athletic commissions is the proper way to police the sport.

Why would anyone want the fight promotions themselves to test fighters when there’s a true independent body out there capable of doing it? The answer isn’t testing by the fight promotions, the answer is more thorough testing by the state commissions.

To read Sievert’s article in its entirety, just click here.

7 COMMENTS
  • says:

    I can’t see how these words from Dana are anything but a step in the wrong direction with regard to the steroid issue. He can gripe all he wants, but the bottom line is simple, and you nailed it: don’t do drugs.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    white has too much too lose by fighting roids in his sport.. he cant control what fighters put in thier bodies but he can control what they take home as far as paychecks… and fact is they dont get paid too much which makes the chance of using steriods a great for fighters and if dana thinks that the loss of 10k paydays is enough to deter fighters from using roids he is nuts…

    the tables are turned against dana and ufc cause its the fighters who can make or break them… and a couple of more high profile positive tests and your gonna have a problem…

    imo let everybody roid up

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    I have to disagree with White’s comments about taking away a fighter’s ability to earn a living. Doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, mortgage brokers, and the rest of us have to follow the rules of our professions every day. If you break an important rule you risk losing your job or the license that is required to keep it. All of the fighters know the rules. If the gamble and lose, fine, they can sit out a year or whatever the punishment is.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    The whole “witch hunt” angle sounds remarkably similar to Vince McMahon saying that the media is picking on him for asking questions about steroid use in WWE.

    “Steroids have been here forever, and they’re going to be here forever” is also something that Vince McMahon, Jerry McDevitt, and Co. have said numerous times in so many words.

    The whole “What the (expletive) do you want me to do to these guys?” aspect of this is getting old quickly, as the “what to do” is very simple: Institute random, year-round drug testing.

    Zuffa could hire WADA or USADA to carry out such a program using a small fraction of the company’s annual profits, or they could use the same amount of money to fund the athletic commissions’ ability to carry it out.

    With Kenny Florian, Kalib Starnes, Rob McCullough, and other Zuffa-contracted fighters in calling for random, year-round drug testing (and numerous other fighters saying that they would welcome more testing in general), it just highlights how unusual the situation is for a major sport.

    Usually, if the management or owners in a given sport push for comprehensive drug testing, the athletes and their union fight against it (paging Donald Fehr).

    In MMA, the athletes are publicly calling for year-round testing and the management has repeatedly said in interviews that they don’t know what else they can do besides supporting the athletic commission’s legally binding suspensions that they’d have no choice but to support anyway. It’s exactly the opposite of the way it is in most major sports.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    bah. dana white’s trying to weasel out of the spotlight with the tried-and-true “kill the messenger” routine.
    Press guy: “Mr. White, your heavyweight champ just tested positive for [insert unbelievable amount of alligator testicle smoothies here], do you have a comment?”
    Dana White: You vultures just wanna ****ing eat my ****ing corpse! You want to ruin a ****ing good thing! (jaw clenches) ****ing witch hunt! (further jaw clenches) You’re a ****ing jerk! Tito Ortiz sucks!
    Press Guy: “Wha?”

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    […] Here’s Sam Caplan to respond the rest of the way. […]

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • says:

    Sam…the poster “Saucy” who posted the Dana White response to Gross on the UG is Beth. She works for the UFC and has been posting on the UG for a long time.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.