Have you ever been walking through the city streets and a man offers you something that makes you, “run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier”? Some people would accept this “mysterious substance” and reap the rewards. Me? I throw it on the ground.
Have you ever been told that something is good for you, but you have no clue what’s actually in it or even bother to check? You just go ahead and accept that this “mysterious substance” is good for you because a friend told you it was and then take it. Me? I say, “If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for the ground.”
Now lets just say that this “mysterious substance” isn’t legal and could cost you a lot of money and scrutiny if it comes out that you’re on this substance. Lets just say that by taking this substance, you’re risking your health and the health of the people you’re competing against. Do you regret jumping a little higher or listening to your friend? Don’t you wish you just injected it into the ground?
Steroids in MMA are being used by more fighters than just the three or four who get busted every year. Those fighters are just better cheaters than the guys who do end up getting popped. They know when the teacher isn’t looking so they glance at their neighbors paper, they’ve come up with hand signals to relay answers to the person sitting behind them, or they’ve made a “water bottle cheat sheet” that is drastically underused in today’s society.
The fighters who do fail post-fight drug tests are just like the kids in school who get caught cheating. “I didn’t know I was cheating, it was an accident,” “everyone else is cheating, how come you only caught me?” “I didn’t know they were test answers, my buddy just wanted me to hold it for him.”
Obviously Zuffa could take steps to prevent the use of illegal substances, which I’ll get to later, but how about these fighters take some responsibility as well. I have a hard time believing that they don’t know what they’re putting into their body, and if they question a certain supplement, they should check with the commission, who should already be providing them with a list of every banned substance.
Fighters aren’t dumb. They know what goes into their bodies, they know others are cheating so they’re going to cheat as well, they know whether or not they’re using illegal substances. Instead of just admitting it though, and accepting that they screwed up, they try to play the victim. The only problem is, no one feels sorry for a guilty victim. Just ask Casey Anthony.
Earlier this week Zuffa started a new policy that will see them test any potential UFC or Strikeforce signee before the ink is dry on the contract. This sounds like a good idea and a step in the right direction, but what does it really accomplish? Guys get tested before they sign a contract and then what? There is nothing stopping them from getting on illegal substances after they’re signed. And how about the guys who are already under contract? I guess they can just keep doing what they’re doing.
An obvious next step would be for Zuffa to do their own random drug testing. Nevada tried to implement random testing a few years ago, but all they did was test the main event fighters a couple of weeks before the event once or twice, and we haven’t heard about their random testing since. The problem with this is the fact that it would cost a lot of money for Zuffa to send agents to random gyms, collect a urine sample, and then have it shipped off for testing. Would it be worth it? You would hope so if Zuffa actually does testing at random. And by random testing, I mean testing Georges St. Pierre within the first month of being cleared for training, and not testing him a month before the fight takes place.
I want to take it a step further though. Before a fight is official, both competitors sign a bout agreement. So how about when UFC sends over the bout agreement, they send over a plastic cup with it? Fighters will need to pass a drug test before the contest can become official.
It’d be like taking the SATs. You sign your name to prove you’re not completely stupid, and then you take the test to prove you’re smart enough to get into a college. Or you’re cut out to be a future teacher, which is what I always thought the SATs were designed to do.
Will that cost just as much money as random testing? Most likely, but Zuffa needs to take a step if they want to clean up the sport, because as good as commission testing is, it’s also flawed.
Harsher punishment would be a cheaper route to go. When a fighter fails a steroid test, they’re usually fined and suspended for one year, although the suspension can be reduced. A one-year suspension is a pretty big deal, but the UFC usually keeps the fighter around and continues to give them high profile fights when they return.
I’d like to see Zuffa implement a two strikes rule, but with extra punishment built in. If you fail a test the first time around; you get suspended for a year (no reduction unless it’s 100% proven that the initial test was false), lose your purse money from the fight that you failed the test for, and upon return, be put on the preliminary portion of the card. If you fail a test the second time, you’re done and won’t be brought back under any circumstances.
If fighters know that the punishment isn’t worth the risk, maybe they’ll be less likely to play with needles.
Steroids in MMA isn’t a new issue. It’s an old issue that’s going to keep coming up every time a fighter fails a test. The issue will likely never be put to bed, but we can at least get it drunk enough to where it passes out on the bathroom floor.