“Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.” – Jesse Ventura
Mixed martial arts has recently taken a black eye with several fighters recently testing positive for banned substances.
I’ll touch on Nick Diaz first. Should have we been surprised that he popped for marijuana in his system before his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 183? No. It’s par for the course as far as I’m concerned. And I’ve heard the arguments about how weed can or cannot affect your performance in a fight. Still it’s an illegal drug and until the government legalizes it under federal law, the Nevada Athletic State Athletic Commission has the ammo they need to fine and suspend Diaz. Personally if he wanted to fight and still smoked he should have competed in Washington or Colorado.
But what about the guys who tested positive for banned steroids, specifically Silva.
The former UFC middleweight champion tested positive for performance enhancing drugs on a Jan. 9 drug test. Ten days later the NSAC tested him again only to find he had no PEDs in his system. The post-fight drug tests for UFC 183 haven’t come out yet so we don’t know if Silva – or Diaz – had drugs in their system.
There’s no surprise that fans are upset about Silva’s situation. Here you have a fighter, who many consider to be the greatest competitor of all time, testing dirty. Maybe it’s a mistake and someone switched out The Spider’s test for another. Perhaps it was the same person who deflated the footballs before the Patriot’s vs. Colts AFC championship game.
Maybe Silva, like many older fighters have done, use some sort of treatment to increase their testosterone. Maybe “The Spider” wanted to get a leg up on Diaz. Perhaps he got a contact high from Chael Sonnen during their fight. As Sonnen tweeted, he was filled with “more juice” than Jamba during their first encounter at UFC 117. Who knows?
Silva failed a drug test. Whether or not he did it on purpose he stilled failed it. Does that make me hate him? Not really. It just proves that he’s human like the rest of us.
Another part of the issue is that because of the recent developments in drug testing, we will see more fighters pop for substances, specifically in the women’s division. A lot of people point to Cris “Cyborg” and when she failed her post-fight drug test against Hiroko Yamanaka in 2011. Keep in mind she trained at Chute Boxe, a place where it was rumored that a lot of fighters – including the legendary Wanderlei Silva – were taking steroids.
Since the UFC has adopted the women’s division there have been two cases where fighters failed post-fight drug tests: Jessica Eye, who popped for marijuana in her system after her fight with Sarah Kaufman and Ashlee Evans-Smith, who tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide after her match with Raquel Pennington. While hydrochlorothiazide is not a PED, it can be used a mask to allow someone to use performance enhancers.
Will we see more fighters fail drug tests? Absolutely but it’s not because MMA fighters are the only athletes who have gotten caught and punished for cheating. Every sport – and I can hear fight fans shaking their fists because they don’t like it when their beloved competition is compared to others – has athletes who cheat one way or another. Whether it’s PEDs, rule braking or exposing loopholes in the system, all sports have cheaters. It’s a way to get a leg up on the competition.
Is it right? Of course not but when it comes down to being in first place, winning that championship or in some cases putting food on your table, you are going to do what you can to win at all costs.
Still there are athletes who have found success not through cheating but through their hard work and “never say die” attitude. And perhaps it is those folks we should look at when someone fails a drug test. Silva pops for PEDs, look at Anthony Pettis, he’s a UFC champion who has never passed a drug test. You’re disgusted by the Cyborg, look at Ronda Rousey whose mother recently posted a pic of her taking a California State Athletic Commission drug test. I know you’re thinking “she’s disrespectful and a loudmouth.” Yeah but she’s a loudmouth who has never failed a drug test.