36-year-old Vitor Belfort was granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) by the Comissão Atlética Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA), the regulating body for Mixed Martial Arts in Brazil. However, Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) head Keith Kizer is on record as saying he does not believe Belfort would receive a TUE from the NSAC, because Belfort has previously tested positive for steroids, and one side effect of chronic steroid abuse is low testosterone.
"I don't see Vitor Belfort getting a TRT exemption from us," said Kizer earlier this year to Bleacher Report's Damon Martin. "I really don't, and I feel kind of bad for him in some ways because if he has learned from his mistakes and now he's trying to do it the right way and his levels are low with the treatment, good for him and I hope he is doing that."
Never the less, CABMMA medical director Dr. Márcio Tannure granted Belfort a TUE.
Alexandre Matos, for Fighters Only magazine, grilled Dr. Tannure about the decision.
Alexandre Matos: NSAC executive director Keith Kizer said that he will not authorize TRT for any athlete who failed drug tests in the past, clearly directing the statement to Vitor Belfort. What is your opinion regarding the NSAC’s veto, since Belfort was only allowed to take the treatment in Brazil and is unlikely to be cleared to fight again in the United States under these circumstances?
Dr. Márcio Tannure: I would not like to comment on their decisions. They have the right and autonomy to make their decisions, as we have to make ours.
AM: Is it possible that Belfort’s hypogonadism had any other cause than the abuse of anabolic steroids during his career?
MT: I can’t say what was the cause of his hypogonadism, what happened and what didn’t, because we don’t know that. And there are several possible causes for this condition.
AM: An Vitor’s issue, one thing is unclear: it’s not possible to determine the cause of his hypogonadism, but the abuse of anabolic steroids is a possible cause, and he was suspended for this reason in the past. It’s his right to take care of his health and do the treatment, but don’t you think that authorizing TRT and letting him compete professionally is actually letting him get away with mistakes made in the past?
I say this because when an athlete uses illegal substances, he should keep in mind that there are future consequences (such as hypogonadism). If the fighter does not need to deal with these future consequences, wouldn’t it encourage the use of illegal substances? I mean, the athlete can think "Hey, I can take a lot of steroids, because if I ever have problems I know they will allow me to take TRT and keep competing"?
MT: I don’t agree. First because, as I said, we can’t determine the cause of the disease. By saying this, you would be affirming that this was the cause of Vitor’s condition.
The athlete who gets caught using steroids will be punished and suspended, as happened to him and others. So it was not and would not be unpunished, in all cases.
There are androgenic and anabolic hormones and, in fact, people do not know the difference between them. If, at some point, Vitor Belfort gets caught in a drug test with an anabolic hormone, he will be punished again like any other fighter. But he is currently using an androgenic hormone, specific for replacement.
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