For at least one day, I’ll pretend to be ‘classy’ and put my disdain for Florida State aside and congratulate them on winning NCAA football’s BCS national championship last night. I’ve had a major dislike for that program since the 2000 national championship. (Peter Warrick had no business playing, people!) It’s pretty admirable and remarkable for a freshman quarterback, in this case Jameis Winston, to lead his team to an undefeated record and a win over what seemed to be a destiny-driven school in the national title game. When Auburn led 21-3, I thought the game was over. And then Auburn shot themselves in the foot, and Jameis Winston and Co. took over.
You have to wonder what the outcome would have been if Auburn didn’t leave 10 points hanging from the dropped catch in their first drive to the missed field goal in the second quarter. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Mistakes kill. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Getting college football out of the way, I’m irked. These TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) talks in the realm of MMA are driving me crazy, no matter who’s talking about it. I’m more infatuated with the various commentary on Vitor Belfort’s TRT use and possible TUE (therapeutic use exemption) than I am with the actual title fight between him and Chris Weidman.
Belfort, almost 37, has reeled off three consecutive first round head-kick knockouts, disposing of Michael Bisping, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold and, most recently, Dan Henderson. But doing it competing strictly in Brazil — where the drug testing has come under fire — has led to speculation that he’s abusing the system.
NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) Executive Director Keith Kizer is not convinced that Belfort can obtain a license to compete in the “Sin City” after failing a drug test back in 2006. Not because he was popped for 4-hydroxytestosterone, but for the fact that low testosterone is one of the side effects of previous steroid abuse, something that rules him ineligible for a TUE for the controversial treatment.
That leaves Belfort with two choices. He can either state his case in front of the commission and convince them he’s worthy of a TUE, or he can flatout abandon his TRT use for a Weidman title fight, something he will (begrudgingly) do if that’s what it takes to compete for the gold.
I don’t think Belfort has a shot in hell of beating Weidman in a title fight if he’s not on TRT. Low testosterone yields low stamina which yields low cardio which yields major trouble against the “All-American” Weidman who was an elite college wrestler and now an elite wrestler as the undisputed king of the 185 lb. division.
There is no better way for Belfort to silence his critics and fulfill his dream than by competing in Las Vegas, Nevada, defeating Chris Weidman and passing all of his drug tests. Sounds like a pretty tall order, though I’m not sure which of those obstacles will be the most difficult to overcome.
It’s time for a Troy Sparks’ physiology primer for you guys (I can’t help myself). Testosterone (T) is the naturally occurring male hormone produced primarily in the testes. Epitestosterone (E) is an inactive form of testosterone that may serve as a storage substance or precursor that gets converted to active T. Most men have a ratio of T to E of 1:1, which means normal men have equal amounts of T and E in their blood. There is some normal ethnic and time of day variation in the normal T/E ratio (as low as 0.7:1 and as high as 1.3:1).
Statistics reveal that a ratio of up to 3.7:1 will capture 95 percent of all normal men, and a ratio of up to 5:1 will capture greater than 99 percent of all men. That’s why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows up to 4:1 (so its test is at least 95 percent accurate) and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the NCAA and some others allow up to 6:1 (for 99 percent accuracy). The whole goal is to not label someone a cheater when he or she isn’t. (Very, very rarely, some people are just freakishly high, but they have a ratio of less than 6:1).
T/E ratios are used in performance-enhancing-drug (PED) monitoring because taking an external (exogenous) source of T will not affect the E levels in the blood. E stays the same, but T climbs because of the injection, and the T/E ratio follows suit and climbs.
The half-life of injectable T is only eight days. So every eight days, half of the T you took is washed out of your blood. Therefore, if a cheater knows when he is likely to be tested (i.e. post-fight), he doesn’t need to be a genius to know when to stop taking (“cycle off”) to test lower than 6:1 or 4:1. Twenty-four days is three half-lives, and virtually none of the extra T is left in your system to get you busted.
T abuse is making a resurgence because of therapeutic-use exemptions (TUE for TRT). Also, it naturally occurs in men’s blood – unlike anabolic steroids that at any level are unnatural (not made within the body) and must be masked in an attempt to beat the test. Cheaters don’t have to mask T, so they don’t worry about testing positive for a masking agent. They just need enough time for their bodies to get rid of it naturally.
If you don’t know when the test is coming, you cannot adequately plan or time when to stop taking a PED like T. This, of course, is the rationale for random testing.
This is what Chris Weidman had to say about TRT usage:
I don’t like it, to be honest with you. If your testosterone is low, man, that’s God telling you that you have low testosterone, and if you can’t train the right way or whatever it is, it’s time to retire and do something else. It’s a little unfair that you could be 38 years old and he definitely has higher testosterone than me. [Note: Belfort is actually 36.] I’m 29 and have decently low testosterone, but I would never take testosterone because you are stuck on that thing for your whole life. I would never want to be on TRT. And I feel fine, [having low testosterone] doesn’t bother me. So I can’t imagine these guys that are using it for performance reasons. I don’t like it, and I know California banned it recently although other commissions allow it. I don’t like it.
Chris Weidman, you have low T? Yeah, I don’t believe that. Sounds like hearsay to me. I don’t believe it till Weidman actually posts his ng/dl scores as well as free T levels. At the age of 29 and having just dominated the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, I don’t foresee that occurring with low T. As for Vitor Belfort, like I said, Vitor’s been getting his brain rocked with punches for over 20 years now. Vitor also basically shot himself in the proverbial foot with past anabolic steroid usage, as I also mentioned. There’s a difference between a 36-year-old man’s T levels that isn’t a professional fighter compared to a 36-year-old professional fighter’s T that’s having his hypothalamus damaged fight after fight.
I’m going to write about this topic ad nauseum, just like I already have.