The Dope Show

I wake up today to news that yet another UFC fighter (Pat Healy) has failed a test for marijuana use, had a big win reduced to a no contest and lost over $130’000 in win bonuses.

That’s really sad, but also a little dumbfounding that a professional athlete would indulge in a substance which is a) specifically banned under the rules of the sport and b) has well established negative effects.

What’s even sadder is the inevitable blowing up of my Twitter feed with folks saying that dope shouldn’t be banned, it’s not a performance enhancer and advocating all sorts of things, such as the idea cannabis is actually good for you etc.

Now, I’m no starch collared conservative regarding drugs – I’m very much of the belief that all drugs should be legalised for personal use and the net benefit to society of reducing the power of organised crime, increasing the tax base and putting one tenth the resources into education and treatment that we currently put into the ‘war on drugs’, would be significant.

However, it remains that as a currently, largely illegal drug – marijuana IS banned in MMA and fighters will risk bans, having results overturned and fines if they get caught having used it.

Why a pro fighter would use marijuana eludes me – its not like your average stoner is the fittest, most focused individual on the planet. If nothing else, can you imagine being stoned while sparring? Getting the munches during a weight cut? Sounds like great fun to me.

Checking up on the many effects of marijunan – I notice a few interesting facts, which back up things I’ve noticed in friends who are heavy stoners (I play guitar in rock bands, this stuff isn’t exactly alien to me.)

Firstly, the psychological effects of addiction (and marijuana IS psychologically addictive) include paranoia, aggression, anxiety and other things which can surely not be good for someone who’s daily routine involves getting beaten up.

Dope causes laxity, a tendency to procrastinate and prioritise towards getting your dope and having your smoke, over all other things. Have you ever gotten between a stoner and his dope, questioned their need to spend their rent money on a bag of herb? The reaction is often very aggressive.

See Nick Diaz and Matt Riddle. Aren’t they just the LOVELIEST boys?

Secondly is a little footnote that says “Heavy marijuana use lowers men’s testosterone levels and sperm count and quality. Pot could decrease libido and fertility in some heavy-smoking men.”

Hmn, a ‘recreational’ drug that lowers testosterone. In a climate where steroid use and TRT is increasingly becoming a huge issue in MMA, the fact that top level professionals are being found to be partaking of a drug that could hide the effects of such, more intensely banned substances is… interesting.
The bottom line is this. I believe you should be legally allowed to take whatever you like, it’s your body after all. However if your profession states that a certain substance, or practise is banned then its pretty incumbent on you to NOT DO IT.

Furthermore, please don’t be sidetracked by the chorus of folks telling you that dope is good for you, has no harmful side effects etc. Chances are, every single one of them is a heavy stoner who is looking for a justification for their habit.

To his eternal credit, Pat Healy has come out with quite possibly the best fighter statement I’ve ever heard in such a situation.

“I would like to start off by apologizing to the UFC, Jim Miller, the MMA community, its fans, my family, teammates and coaches for my positive testing for marijuana after my UFC 159 fight with Jim Miller,” he stated. “I was fully aware of the UFC and state commission’s drug policies and made poor life choices.

“I stand behind the UFC and state commission’s disciplinary actions. I support efforts to make MMA (and sports) a clean, safe and fair place to compete.

“I made a very poor choice to socially use marijuana and now I must face the consequences of that choice. I can assure you that I will do everything the UFC and state commission asks of me and beyond. I will make a conscious effort to be a better role model within the MMA community.”

He takes responsibility, admits to having done wrong and makes no excuses, no weak assertions that dope isn’t a PED or he needs it to regulate his temper. He broke the rules, he apologised and will take his lumps.

Well done Pat, for responding like an adult and a man, you’ve actually gone up in my estimation. Lets hope the apologists take note.


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