According to UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner, an unnamed fighter was granted a therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy at UFC 152. Although the controversial treatment is legal with a doctor’s note, fans immediately turned detective to try and figure out who the party was.
Fingers quickly pointed to Vitor Belfort (Pictured), who at the 35 was the most senior participant in September’s event. “The Phenom” also tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2006, so perhaps the writing was plastered all over the Octagon wall.
ESPN.com recently caught up with Belfort and asked him pointblank if he has ever applied for a TUE for TRT. The 17-year veteran refused to deny or confirm his use.
“If a question is private, I have the choice to answer or not. If I make it public, it’s not private anymore,” Belfort stated. “If I want to say something private I will say it, but I keep to myself and I respect the laws of the sport. Whatever the organization, whatever the law – they know what to do.
“This is too controversial, why am I going to say something that doesn’t accomplish anything? If it’s legal, they know what to do. If it’s legal, there’s nothing to say about it. It’s legal.”
The cheater’s handbook for TRT suggests athletes are manipulating the regimen while preparing for a fight. They will jack up their testosterone levels beyond normal ranges in order to push their bodies to its outermost limit. As showtime steadily approaches, they will then taper off the treatment to get their testosterone back to a natural level – therefore, no flunked drug tests.
Because MMA organizations and athletic commissions (except Nevada) don’t conduct random, out-of-competition exams, there’s no way to police TRT use – or any performance-enhancing substances, for that matter.
Belfort meets Michael Bisping in 10 days in Brazil. Because jiu jitsu country doesn’t have a governing body for MMA, Ratner will oversee the event on the UFC’s behalf. Thus, fans won’t find out if anyone in the lineup received a TUE for TRT.