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MMA & PEDs

Yves Edwards

February 25th, 2015

3 Comments

Recently I worked on a martial arts film and in one of the fights scenes I helped choreograph I had to teach one of the stunt doubles how to perform his finishing move. This young man is a very good martial artist and a highly skilled gymnast and free-runner so the fact that I had to teach him, step by step, how to execute a triangle choke blew my mind. In my head every martial artist on the planet should know what a triangle is, but what’s in my head isn’t necessarily how it is. In other words just because every single friend I have knows how to apply a triangle choke doesn’t mean that every athlete on the planet does also.

 

I’m hoping that little anecdote makes you think; if it does you’re probably thinking one of two things: 1. “I/everyone I know, knows what a triangle choke is and how to apply it.” If you’re a fighter or you practice BJJ you maybe be thinking something like this. 2. “I know what a triangle choke is but I don’t know how to apply one.” If you’re an MMA fan and have seen enough fights but don’t train you may be thinking something like this. Why is this relevant? I think the relevance lies in our natural tendency to take what we know well for granted or too lightly.

 

Which brings me to something else that I think fighters take too lightly, PEDs. Performance enhancing drugs are like recurring characters as the world of MMA turns. I remember when I lived in Houston, way back in 05’, guys were getting popped for “pissing dirty” and ever since then there has been a steady stream of fighters getting caught with PEDs in their system. Fast forward to 10 years later and the guy many consider the greatest ever gets popped in a pre-fight out of competition test, then gets popped again in a post fight test. Which in my head at least, puts an asterisk next to his name in the history books. I don’t want to believe that Anderson was using “vitamin S” throughout his UFC career but now if someone makes that argument I can’t say with conviction that he didn’t. Imagine this, if a guy fights at altitude and doesn’t seem to tire at all while his opponent does and he wins by submission; then in his next fight he tests positive for EPO would you believe that the time he got caught was the first time that he used it? I know I wouldn’t; because I don’t.

 

This is combat sports and I know for a fact that although our sport is now hugely accepted world wide as legitimate there are still those out there that think the nature of MMA makes us barbarians. That being said you don’t want to be the guy/girl who’s out there one night that seriously hurts someone else and hospitalize them or worse, and then have your test come back positive for banned substances. Not only will that incident stay attached to you for the rest of your career, however short it may be after that, but if you have a conscience it will probably stay with you for the rest of your life. Now the UFC is implementing new policies in the MMA’s war on drugs and many, myself included, are glad to see stricter penalties for cheating. Of the updates to the penalties and policies the biggest in my opinion are:

  1. A 2-4 year minimum suspension even if you’re a 1st time offender, up from 9 months.
  2. Everyone on every card will have their blood and urine tested. In the past I think some states tested urine but most randomly selected a few guys from the card, there were a few states that tested all fighters. I’ve never been subjected to or heard of someone having to submit to a post fight blood test.
  3. Random testing for everyone on the roster year round, this is completely new, and all title fight fighters will be subject to out of competition tests.

 

This is huge and definitely a good thing if the sport is to be cleaned up, but just like haters are going to hate, and 10ers are gonna 10, cheaters are going to cheat. Therefore although I applaud the UFC for taking a stronger stance in the fight against PEDs we can’t look to Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta to fix the whole problem; because I wholeheartedly believe even with these new penalties someone is going to get popped for steroids before the end of 2015. Maybe some of that stems from the lack of concern from non PED users. Most guys I know don’t and haven’t juiced and are against it but when the subject comes up in the room even the guys who express no interest in using them also aren’t threatened by someone that is suspected of using or that has been disciplined for their use in the past but that’s a fighter’s mentality, that’s an athlete’s mentality. Let me give you an example, If a sprinter knows that another guy in the race has a better time than him they think, “I’m just going to have to run faster”. That attitude in a lot of instances reflects how fighters who don’t use PEDs feel about it also. “If he’s juicing he’s weak anyway so I’ll break him”, you have to have that mentality to be a fighter in the first place, in my opinion, but that attitude isn’t helping to get steroids out of the sport. So here’s my solution. Fighters, fight teams, coaches, significant others, mentors, brothers and sisters have to hold each other accountable. I still remember how hard the grind is but every time I’ve ever had to grind through a training camp I had to do it with the guys who are the closest in the world to me. I’ve had more fights than I can remember, I’ve stepped into the ring/mat/Octagon over 80 times and there was not one single time that I’ve ever had a concern about pissing dirty, ever!!! Not because I knew how to work the system, not because I wasn’t afraid of the penalties if I got caught cheating. I never had a concern about pissing dirty because if I got caught using PEDs I wouldn’t have the balls to look Dustin Poirier, Robbie Lawler, Ricardo Liborio, Kami Barzini, Tonya, Destiny and Yvan Edwards, or any of the guys at ATT in the face? I could only imagine how disappointed they would be in my if they knew I cheated, and I don’t know how I could face that. They’re the reason that I couldn’t bring myself to cheat. They held me to a standard and they still do. Granted nothing is going to remove PEDs from MMA to the 100% mark, but with the new penalties along with teams and teammates holding fighters accountable we can make a serious dent in their usage. Imagine if teams suspended fighters for cheating, and every team world wide respected that suspension like athletic commissions do. If we truly want PEDs out of the sport testing and stiffer penalties will help, but holding each other to a higher standard would be even more effective.

 

But what do I know? I used to get punched in the face for a living.

 

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I get it but 2 to 4 year suspension seems so excessive. I wish they would keep the State Athletic Commission’s standard 6 to 9 month suspension but the promotion who contracted with the PED user would simply cut the fighter. Let the fighter find another promotion to fight for after the SAC penalty and have the potential to earn money as well as moral redemption.
    The firing promotion will also have the benefit of being morally superior to the hiring promotion (and doesn’t the UFC just love that the most?). Banning someone from earning for up to four years in their chosen profession just doesn’t sit right with me.
    But, then again, I don’t fight, don’t train, avoid taking the stairs if at all possible, and try to pay the least amount of income tax possible.

  2. lance Wallace says:

    Yves, seriously. You have always been one of my favorites to watch in competition. I’m an olde guy fan. You are spot on. Hi from Colorado and thanks for being s UGer.
    You are a thinking mans fighter.
    Thanks for thinking.

  3. Dana says:

    Well written article Yves. I really do think Anderson just used to for his leg, but why do you think he’s stated he hasn’t cheated at all? There are reports he’s finally going to come out and say he has cheated for his leg, but why not say that in the first place?

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