Steroid Accusations Hit MMA World

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Steroid Accusations Hit MMA World

Last week Rudy Valentino, trainer of BJ Penn, was in the news for saying that he thought Penn's second fight with Georges St. Pierre was unfair because he and Penn felt like GSP was using steroids.  From an interview with Sports Illustrated's MMA podcast:

"I think it's because of his so-called steroid use, and all of that, that B.J. felt it was an unfair fight."

...

"We heard from certain people that used to train with him, telling us what he did in the past. That's why, we had a heads up on that."

...

"When you cycle steroids, you're not going to test positive. You can cycle it right up to the time of the fight and not test positive on that. That's what we suspected he did in this fight."

Now K-1 fighter Zabit Samedov accuses "almost all" Dutch fighters of using steroids:

Almost all Dutch fighters juice. For example, in Golden Glory it’s almost a part of the club’s policy. They shoot up and fight like it’s nothing. Because of that when they get to the ring they start raging. Think about it yourself, how could Bard Hari change his physical complexion so much in two years?

Karaev trained in Holland and said that Zimmerman shoots up in front of everyone and only after that starts training. Look at what an elephant Zimmerman had become in just two years. But most of these fighters pass all medical tests for steroids.

How? They consume extremely high level new pharmaceutical drugs and go through a very expensive three months cycle. So they can get huge.

SB Nation's K-1 blog Head Kick Legend is quick to point out some of the defenses that will be thrown toward Zabit:

Undoubtedly, comments like these will draw a lot of knee jerk reactions from both sides.  Those that disagree with Samedov will point out that he himself tested positive once (as he mentions here) but of course he has an excuse for that.  Also, the two fighters he singles out are his two high profile recent loses, which perhaps brings some of his motivation into question here.

The famous Golden Glory Gym that Samedov directly accuses is home to MMA fighter, and Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem.  Overeem has long been at the center of the steroid debate in the sport, going from a guy who was cutting down to 205 pounds to nearly 250 pounds of pure muscle in a matter of a couple years.  Add in his reluctance to fight in the U.S. and the rumors quickly piled up.  Now we have a major fighter directly accusing his gym of using "juice" as a regular part of their training.

It is easy to quickly write off Samedov and Valentino as sore losers who are quick to point a finger at men they (or their fighter) lost to, but it could also be the start of a new era when MMA falls victim to the endless steroid accusations that have plagued most of the major sports for years.  Boxing has come perilously close to losing the huge money fight in Mayweather v. Pacquiao over the past week due to Mayweather suddenly becoming an outspoken anti-steroid advocate.

It would be pure ignorance to think that baseball players, football players, boxers, swimmers, bicyclists, soccer players...etc all use steroids while mixed martial artists are pure.  There is, undoubtedly, a large group of fighters who are using and as was the case with MLB many of the names would probably shock the fanbase.  However, we can not resort to pointing fingers at every fighter who achieves a high level of success or goes through physical changes as being "on something."  That is not vigilance, it is irresponsible and won't do anything to help the sport.

We, as MMA fans, can make an effort to clean up our sport by contacting and pushing athletic commissions and individual promotions to make testing more stringent.  This could be achieved by random testing of licensed fighters both in and out of competition, scheduled testing of fighters up to one month before a fight, and the holy grail...blood testing.

However, push for something as serious as blood testing would likely be met with a push by fighters to form a union which is something that a promotion like the UFC is already working behind the scenes to prevent from ever happening.  Because of this want to avoid fighter unionization the UFC would likely never get on board with pushing for much more than some form of watered down random testing.  And while it is up to state athletic commissions to make the rules as they control the licenses it is very clear that much of the time these AC's are making moves based on what promotions and promoters desire.

For now we'll have to settle for small moves like California using a form of random testing which was what led to Josh Barnett being popped for a positive. Barnett's positive test was the first domino to fall in the eventual collapse of Affliction MMA.  It was a moment that was handled incorrectly by the MMA media as Josh being an isolated case rather than proving the impact that even small changes to testing procedures can have on a sport.

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