Steroid use is a hot topic in sports today. Is he “juicing” or isn’t he? Are his muscles all-natural? Recently, it’s an issue most associated with baseball and the recent Congress hearings on steroids. Those hearings connected nearly 90 players to steroid use. If you’re successful in a professional sport, expect to answer accusations of steroid use.
Generally, steroids are banned because of negative side effects and health risks they can cause, the effect that professional athletes’ steroid use will have on younger and impressionable athletes and to make play fair for all participants.
With the rigorous training that MMA fighters go through, it’s to be expected that they will be muscular; it’s their jobs. While accusations are flying around in all sports that an athlete is on steroids, UFC and MMA are no exception.
In June 2007, a report from California State Athletic Commission said that Royce Gracie tested positive for anabolic steroids. Gracie has reportedly denied the claims that he’s used steroids. Gracie was suspended until May 2008 and was fined $2,500, which was the maximum penalty for the state of California.
Around the same time, fighter Johnnie Morton failed his pre-fight drug test, which came back positive for high testosterone levels. EliteXC fighter Tim Persey’s drug test found amphetamines in his system. Persey was charged $1,000 and was suspended for six months. In March 2009, Ken Shamrock was suspended for a year after he tested positive.
California enacted a new steroid policy in December 2008 which complies with the standards of the Olympics and the World Anti-Doping Agency, who will perform the tests. The new policy for MMA and steroid use tests fighters for every match.
With the policy, all fighters will be tested for steroid use that are participating in major matches. For fights of less importance, random fighters will be tested for recreational drug use.
New bylaws are in early stages of passing and propose that fighters be tested all year, allowing fighters who use steroids in the off-season or pre-season to be caught.
“If this testing forces people to deal with issues ahead of time, it may allow their families to have more time with them, save them from health problems in later life or even premature death,” Bill Douglas, assistant executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission and in charge of operations said.
WADA’s testing lab, located at UCLA, also performs tests on athletes from leagues such as the NFL.
The NFL’s steroid policy states that a player may be tested as many times as 24 every year. Players that test positive for the first time are suspended without pay for four games. If the player continues to test positive in the future he may be released from the NFL.
While these two policies are different, they are both effective in cutting back steroid use– for now. Until the negative side effects overtake the positive ones, expect athletes to continue to use despite the risks it could give their sports career.
Although most people associate steroids with substances like Human Growth Hormone or Anabolic Steroids, other substances, such as caffeine, are classified as steroids and are banned in some sporting events. Amphetamines and alcohol are also often prohibited substances.
Most use HGH and Anabolic Steroids to increase their strength and muscle mass, reduce the recovery time needed between workouts and reduce body fat.
When using steroids, other negative effects often occur that one might not have bargained for.
Anabolic steroids are said to cause heart problems, liver disease, blood clots, tumors, certain types of cancer and aggressive behavior. HGH brings joint swelling and pain, and a risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes to its users.
However, these side effects are often disputed and few studies have been done to show the long-term effects of steroids.
Because nearly all fighters are extremely health conscience, they’re aware that using steroids brings the possibility of decreasing their health, including the numerous lasting side effects.
So, why are athletes still using steroids? Of course, they’re by no means capable of miracles. They won’t turn athletes into mega-super athletes. Regardless, they’re effective in building muscle quickly; in a few days you can notice a difference at the gym—in strength, endurance and motivation. But is it really worth it?