While there are a number of sports dealing with performance-enhancing drug problems, mixed martial arts faces a unique situation, and that’s something UFC president Dana White is grappling with.
PEDs are used mainly for athletes to gain a competitive edge, and while that may be frowned upon in any competition, the use of such PEDs in MMA is particularly alarming, mainly because of the repercussions. While using PEDs can cause inflated numbers in certain sports, fighters using them in MMA could lead to lethal results.
White understands just how dangerous PEDS in MMA can be, which is why he’s all for cracking down on banned substances. In fact, he thinks the sport’s current testing — which involves testing by state athletic commissions — is better than what the MLB and NFL are currently using as their testing policies.
“Do you think if they were really testing all the guys in baseball, do you really think there would be a [expletive] baseball game every day of the week?” White said to reporters at the MGM Grand on Thursday. “There wouldn’t be, man. They would be pulling guys up from the minors every day. It would be crazy. There will always be a thing in sports where, someone’s trying to get an edge on the other guy. You know? As an owner or a commissioner or whatever you want to call it, you do the very best you can do.
“PEDs have been around since people have started making money in sports,” White continued. “And, I don’t know what the real answer is to crack down on this whole thing. All I know is we are regulated by the government, they come in and they test our guys, that’s a fact. However you think, if you think football and baseball are really knocking it out of the park, pun intended, you’re crazy.”
White has faced questions recently about whether the UFC should adopt a random, year-round drug screening process. But while he’s all for increasing the safety of the sport, he also thinks such a policy would lead to an increase in marijuana-related tests.
“Forget about PEDs,” White said. “If we get into this system that we’re talking about where we would randomly test these guys, do you know how many guys would probably test positive for marijuana? It would be probably off the charts.
“If you randomly test them and then [the results] came out, you’d get the exact same suspension [for using marijuana] as you do for using PEDs.”
Clearly, a fighter smoking marijuana isn’t as dangerous as a fighter using anabolic steroids, so White’s point is certainly understandable. That’s why he thinks the penalties that come with each type of transgression should be different. The problem lies in figuring out a system that works best.
“But [giving fighters similar suspensions for using both PEDs and marijuana] is just crazy,” White said after acknowledging the danger of PEDs in MMA. “It’s so easy to sit there and say, ‘Here’s what you should do. Here’s how you fix it,’ but there are so many flaws in the system, it’s just not that easy. It’s not just, ‘Hey, let’s sign up this company [to do testing].’ There’s a whole [expletive] of things that would come about.”
White thinks if a random system was put into place, the suspensions handed out amongst fighters would skyrocket.
“Everybody thinks that if you did this random testing you’d catch so many guys on PEDs,” White said. “No. You’d catch more of the guys on marijuana. That’s where you’d really bust a lot of guys. … We have 475 guys under contract and probably 400 of them would be out with marijuana.”
Obviously, White has quite the conundrum on his hands. On the one hand, he wants to make an inherently dangerous sport a little less dangerous. But on the other, he realizes watching the majority of his fighters get suspended for smoking reefer probably isn’t the wisest decision, either.
Good luck figuring it all out, Dana. You’ll need it.
Thumbnail photo via Facebook/Dana White
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I think I’m a good fit in Boston. It’s going to be fun playing with [Dustin] Pedroia. I’ve played against him, but to actually get to play with a good second baseman is going to a really good opportunity for me.
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