Dr. Benjamin’s controversial comments on Mir, Sonnen, Diaz, and Overeem

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stephie Daniels conducted a extensive interview with Dr. Johnny Benjamin on PEDs and safety in mixed martial arts. Dr. Benjamin offered point-blank, even incendiary responses on Chael Sonnen, Alistair Overeem, the NSAC, and others.

Excerpts appear below:

Stephie Daniels: Frank Mir is only 33. Is he really old enough to require TRT naturally?

Dr. Johnny Benjamin: Let’s be honest here. How many people who never wrecked their bodies with past steroid use, naturally need TRT at 33? Less than one or two percent.

Stephie Daniels: What about a case like Chael Sonnen’s, where he has stated that hypogonadism is the root of his need for a TUE?

DJB: Was Chael Sonnen a big time collegiate wrestler? Yes he was. I’m going to opine and say to you, there’s no way in the world you get to the level of collegiate wrestling that Chael Sonnen was at, with hypogonadism. Let me explain to you why. Hypogonadism means that the testes did not produce enough testosterone for one to normally mature. He wasn’t on TRT as a teenager. He became this big, muscled up monster and NCAA wrestler with hypogonadism? Hell no.

The truth of the matter is, you could never get to that level, because you’re not going to have the muscle mass and strength to get you there. They’re going to run you over. Your body will not allow you to develop enough muscle and strength to compete at your size. If he has hypogonadism, it’s from one thing, and one thing only, because he treated himself with steroids in the past, and wrecked his testes. That’s it.

Stephie Daniels: What are your thoughts on Alistair Overeem?

DJB: The one thing that I always harp about, and it always ends up making me eat humble pie, is that you can’t look at a person and tell if they’re on steroids, but with him, you could look at him and say something funny.

Stephie Daniels: Do you feel that marijuana is a PED?

DJB: Not at all. I don’t smoke, I don’t grow, I don’t sell, I don’t do any of that, but it’s clearly not a PED, unless you’re in a pie eating contest.

Stephie Daniels: Do you feel that Nick Diaz’ punishment was a little harsh?

DJB: Nick Diaz got thrown under the bus. I mean, his punishment was harsh, but his lawyers didn’t do him any favors either. Between Nick and his lawyer, they did a terrible job [laughs]. If you try to go in there and try to show them up and show how their system is screwed up, yeah, that’s not likely to go over very well.

Read entire interview…
Read part I of the interview…

Dr. Benjamin has a history of controversial essays.

In 2008 he questioned Pat Miletich fighting Thomas Denny, noting of himself that he is “a pretty fair, fellowship-trained spine surgeon.” Benjamin asked rhetorically “Isn’t this the same Pat Miletich who retired because of a serious neck injury – then underwent surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck? Same guy, right?” He then went on to say Miletich’s “safety is very open for debate.”

The problem is that Pat Miletich had not, in fact, undergone surgery.

As Miletich reported via Twitter, the column cost him $4,000.

@DrJCBenjamin wrote I shouldn’t fight after neck surgery. Thr was no surgery n cost me 4k 4 extra tests 2 fight.

Miletich knocked Denny out early in the 2nd round.

His 2009 remarks that women should not fight five-round championship fights due to the dangers of fatigue struck many as lurching somewhere between paternalistic and ludicrous.

In 2010 he accused the UFC and ProElite of ‘promotional lynching’ for putting Kimbo Slice in the limelight. Given that the ‘lynching’ made Slice a millionaire (his TapouT contract alone was 50k/month) and that actual lynching kills people, the word choice was profoundly unfortunate.

In 2011 Dr. Benjamin said UFC marketing appeals to racism.

Part of the popularity of the UFC seems to be related to the domination of the white male wrestler.  I think it may be seen as one of the last sporting bastions of white male superiority.

Simply put.  The UFC/MMA ,in large part, appeals to a young, white male demographic because young, white males are very good at it.  They can cheer for their own, drink with their own and feel good about it when their guy wins.

Do I think that the UFC and/or Dana White are racists?

Nope…not at all.

Does Dana understand his fan base (for better or worse) and markets to them like any successful businessperson…even if it appeals a deep-seated human deficiency?

Yes sir!

Now in 2012, Dr. Benjamin has directly implied Frank Mir wrecked his body with past steroid abuse.

“How many people who never wrecked their bodies with past steroid use, naturally need TRT at 33? Less than one or two percent,” he wrote of Mir. However, setting aside the growing evidence of  a tie between head trauma and low testosterone levels, given that far less than 1% of the 15,000 registered fighters in the sport have received a TUE (the number is close to .1%) the remarks by a respected MD seem ill-thought through and unfair, even reckless.

Dr. Johnny Benjamin’s focus on MMA is generally informed, useful, and widely appreciated, but at times the straight shooting edges into something else, and that serves no one.