I’ve been hammering away on this subject all week, but I think this needs saying. I feel that as sport and as a community, mixed martial arts needs to adopt a proactive, zero tolerance approach towards drugs. All drugs. Performance enhancers and recreational drugs together. Testing must be made more watertight (random, out of competition) and punishments must be standardised.
The notion that recreational drugs shouldn’t be punished as they are not performance enhancing is wrong headed, but so is the concept that performance enhancers are OK so long as you’ve got a doctors note and/or compete somewhere that the oversight isn’t as testing.
Every time someone gets banned for testing positive for weed, I see a million campaigners filling up the forums and Twitter bemoaning that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal anyway, isn’t a performance enhancer and that it’s just unfair that one of them gets punished for having a fly smoke.
I feel like I’m bashing my head against a wall when I say this, but whatever medicinal effects weed has, it also has negative effects which are more observable in the bulk of users.
Oh, yeah and it’s mostly illegal all over the western world. Small detail, but pertinent.
(Edit due to fair point in comments.)
As a sport which struggles with its public relations image all the time, mixed martial arts cannot be seen to endorse or accept any forms of deviant drug use. In order to validate its position as a positive sport and healthy lifestyle it needs to distance itself from controversial and illegal practises.
This includes smoking dope. It doesn’t matter that ‘everyone does it’, or ‘it’s maybe a cure for cancer’, ‘I’ve got a doctors line for it to keep me chilled out’ or that ‘hemp is a wonder textile with many many uses’ – its still a habit forming, psychologically harmful substance, frowned upon by mainstream society that (thanks to current trends in government regulation) tends to fund organised crime.
Yeah, the UFC need to be more accepting of that…
At the same time, the TRT issue needs addressed. Allowing fighters to inject steroids isn’t cool. It’s just not right. The argument basically boils down to ‘I need steroids because my testosterone is low’ which in effect handicaps ‘clean’ fighters who have to live with their inbuilt reserves of testosterone and don’t benefit from the muscle growth and recovery time advantages of TRT.
Given that there is a strong suggestion that reduced testosterone that GETS you a TRT exemption can be caused by prior illegal steroid use that didn’t come with a doctor’s note and the idea of rewarding cheats and effectively punishing fighters who do it right gains ever more weight.
The bottom line is this – MMA needs to be clean. It needs to be about skills and training facing off in the cage. It needs to be about heart. It needs to be a beacon for martial arts as a positive, healthy lifestyle. Being in any way permissive of recreational or sports advantage drugs isn’t going to move the sport forward, and that’s what we all really want, right?