USADA held off Silva from entering the cage after he tested positive of performance-enhancing drugs in 2017, later tracing them back to tainted supplements. Upon return, ‘The Spider’ wants the UFC to take another look at its testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) ban.
In 2014, the biggest mixed martial arts promotion banned the use of TRT after controversies emerged around its consumption. For most MMA fans, TRT was introduced when Silva defeated Chael Sonnen via a triangle choke/armbar combination at UFC 117 in 2010.
Despite the loss, everyone was pleasantly surprised by Sonnen’s performance. However, a month later, the California State Athletic Commission announced the discovery of the now-Bellator fighter’s elevated testosterone levels.
Sonnen said he started using the steroid upon a doctor’s order to treat a medical condition called hypogonadism. It is a syndrome that affects the body’s ability to naturally produce testosterone.
After Sonnen was granted a therapeutic exemption to use TRT, various other fighters followed suit. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin used synthetic testosterone and so did Frank Mir, Todd Duffee and Dan Henderson among others.
However, in the span of a couple years, there seemed to be an epidemic of hypogonadism sweeping through the ranks of MMA. Some seemingly healthy and fit professional athletes have suspiciously suffered from this rare condition.
As controversies started to upsurge, TRT was eventually led to being banned from athletes’ use especially in mixed martial arts. Despite the ban, Silva has an argument as to why the UFC, with USADA, needs to rethink stance on TRT.
In an interview with Youtube channel Rap 77, the 43-year-old middleweight legend cited fellow Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort and Henderson to make his case.
“There are some athletes who need to make use of the hormonal replacement. I think if USADA regulated that, we’d have the sport at a high level, with athletes who have stopped fighting. Vitor, for example. Even me, though I never had the replacement. But some athletes who really need it, who are older. Dan Henderson, many other athletes who have stopped because of this.”
“USADA’s entrance in the UFC to control the doping situation, the way I see it, was good. But, in a certain way, it ends up being a disturbance. Because MMA isn’t a regular sport like all the others. It demands from the athlete fighting training, physical training. There are other countless technical valencies that they have to maintain(like) injuries, etc.”
Despite his own conflict with USADA, Silva recognised its positive partnership with the UFC. However, he still believes the specific nature of MMA should come with adaptations.
“For instance, you take a Tylenol, you can get caught in the doping. You take aspirin, you can get caught in the doping. There are many things, many medicines that the athlete uses, that they have to always be policing themselves. … I’m not against USADA; I’m totally in favour, but I think there should be a certain (flexibility) when it comes to what is allowed and what isn’t.”
Featured Image Credit: Youtube/UFC