If you’ve been paying any attention to MMA lately, you know that performance enhancing drug usage is a problem and key issue in the sport. The persistence with which fighters test positive for PEDs or have issues with testosterone replacement therapy have made it clear that these issues must be addressed by those with the power to do so, lest the sport lose legitimacy and become even more dangerous for those who participate in it.
With the UFC being at the forefront of the sport, the promotion has had to field the bulk of the criticism about PEDs in MMA. Up until recently, UFC president Dana White deflected such criticism by pointing out how heavily tested his athletes are and how his promotion goes above and beyond any other promotion (and any other sport) in regards sponsoring drug testing.
After Alistair Overeem scrapped a highly-anticipated heavyweight title fight with Junior dos Santos by registering an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio on a surprise pre-fight drug test earlier this year, White’s tune began to change some.
In a recent conversation with the L.A. Times, White admitted that performance enhancing drugs are affecting MMA negatively and, even though he maintained some pride in the UFC’s overall PED track record, he acknowledged that more should be done.
“The steroid, [performance-enhancing drug] thing affects the whole sport,” said White. “The key is to make sure these guys never get on it, because once they do, they change. The problem with Overeem is that I want to sit in a room with him man to man and believe him. He told me before he ever fought for us, ‘Don’t worry, I’m the most tested athlete in sports.’ But I think we have about 42 fights a year … you have a guy or two popping [positive tests] here and there, that’s a pretty good ratio.”
When asked if White was for the increased testing of MMA fighters, the UFC boss answered unequivocally that he is.
“Yes,” he answered. “We’re going to do our own testing, order these guys into [a lab]; we’re sorting it out now. You have to do this to save the sport. You can’t have these guys fighting on this stuff.”