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.”
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.