On Feb 25, Josh Gross and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Mike Fish did an ESPN Outside the Lines piece titled MMA testosterone exemptions high. The thrust of the article is that too many Therapeutic Use Exemptions are issued for Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Days after the piece came out, at a previously scheduled meeting, the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted unanimously to ban TRT from MMA in their jurisdiction. The UFC announced they would follow suit at their self-regulated events overseas. And California recently said that absent WADA standard drug testing, TRT was now prohibited.
However, at one point issue is taken with UFC president Dana White.
"White has been inconsistent in interviews about the exemptions, saying most recently that they should be banned," write Gross and Fish. "But that comment came only a few months after saying the opposite."
At the UFN 37 pre fight media scrum, White took exception to the assertion.
"ESPN, as usual, you know, they like to embellish s---," said White. "First of all, we have 500 guys under contract. Now that this new thing has come in and TRT is banned, five guys can't take TRT, out of 500. Five guys had exemptions. They made it sound like it's rampant throughout the MMA world, you know? If five guys is rampant… what? WHAT? Say it.
"Here's the other thing ESPN said in their story: 'When Dana White has talked about this in the past, he's flip-flopped.' I have never f---ing flip-flopped, never did I flip flop. I said right off the bat - I don't like it, we shouldn't use it. I get it, it's science. I even said it was a loophole in the system.
"What happens is you have science out there, they create this thing, where men, as they get older, get lower testosterone, and they can build your testosterone back up. Of course, you're always going to have f---ing guys who are like 'if this much brings me back to normal, where does THIS MUCH take me?' Right? That's always going to happen if you have a loop hole like that in the system."
"I've been the guy who has been vocal about it, and said it should go away, it should go away, it should go away. And if you don't think that had a huge impact on why it went away, you're crazy."
"The whole ESPN, that thing was such a sham. That story was such a sham, and of course, they ran the s--- out of it because it's negative, half of it wasn't true, or was just embellished. It's rampant throughout MMA. 500 guys in MMA and five guys can't have exemptions now. That's rampant?"
White was then asked what is going to happen with Vitor Belfort, who dropped out of his long sought title shot, and plans to wean off TRT.
"Who knows what's going to happen. And at the end of the day, I don't give a s---. I don't care. If you need that stuff to perform and compete, you probably shouldn't perform and compete any more."
"Have I flip flopped ever on my stance over this? It goes away - I don't give a shit, not my problem. And that Vitor thing - that battle's not my battle, that's Vitor's battle."
"Sure, sure, he's still in line (for a title shot). That doesn't take him out at all. The fights he's won, he's won.
"And I can tell you this. Vitor Belfort, every time he was tested by us, he was within his levels. He was where he was supposed to be. And I also told you guys we were going to test the s--- out of him, and we did. And he was always within his levels.
"I don't like cheating, whether it is with drugs. I don't like fighters getting ripped off my referees. I don't like fighters getting ripped off by judges. I don't like any of that. I like a fair playing field.
"That's why I have been screaming and yelling about athletic commissions getting the right refs. And, I could care less if TRT goes away."
"You guys have heard me rip Nevada many, many times. Nevada has done a fantastic job. Cisco is really doing a great job over there right now, along with the other commissioners. I couldn't be happier with the commission right now. I think they're doing a great job."