Kenny Rice: “MMA Needs to Take Long Look at Baseball Debacle”

RKheadshotUFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman must be a baseball fan. Probably a Mets fan, most Long Islanders are, but even if he cheers for the Yankees he has seen that a perpetual weaving of deception has finally ensnarled America’s Pastime, showing it was way past time in acting, therefore the following continual mess it has become.

Within the last week Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were barely acknowledged in voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Statistically, all should have been first ballot locks, but ethically the suspicions of performance enhancing drug use, once again made them unsavory choices for the vast majority of voters. Hypocritical how some can strongly argue, given that many of the same writers were in awe of their amazing numbers while they were doing it without questioning, until the eleventh hour of their careers, how they were doing it.

Over a dozen players will sit out, or have sat out a significant number of games for steroid use in some form. Baseball has made one smart decision in not giving into semantics, using is using.

Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for a year for overwhelming evidence, baseball officials claim, that he was juicing on a regular basis. Rodriguez who did a mea culpa in 2009 about using banned substances when he played for Texas, was forgiven and baseball followed in the inept style by letting him return to the field where A Rod helped the Yankees win the World Series later the same season.

It’s no wonder he is now battling in court for reinstatement even though his own union, the powerful players association, is not backing him. Again it can be argued why he was welcomed back in the first place, and he hasn’t had his day in court with a chance to hear his accusers in cross examination. The evidence is clearly against him, but nothing has ever been clear with baseball and PED’s for a generation.

And from a moral standpoint what about all these whistleblowers who suddenly want to turn in their alleged friends, the same ones they gladly supplied with steroids and even helped them shoot up on occasions? Are they trying to atone for their own sins, or trying to get a book deal?

In a nutshell, and a tainted one that is worm-filled with contractions, baseball created this entire debacle over a decade ago and waited too late to regain some order and decency. While the players are far from blame, they shouldn’t continue to be punished by recognizing their achievements in an era where league officials and media, winked, nodded and turned a blind eye to the stunning physical changes in players and records being set and broken routinely that seemed beyond mere hard work and determination.

MMA needs to take heed of the baseball mess. Testosterone Replacement Therapy is a performance enhancer. Some states , prominently Nevada, give exemptions to TRT-using fighters, deepening the shady gray around its use. It can be likened to the late 1990’s when certain drugs in baseball were debated as being a steroid or a simple means to boost energy. Remember almost ten years ago when McGwire admitted to using over the counter androstenedione, which was banned by the NFL and the International Olympic Committee, but not by MLB? Baseball got it wrong obviously, McGwire was allowed to use it and not punished at that time. Nor did most who vote against him now scream out for some punishment then.

Testosterone is a steroid, doctors who have appeared on “Inside MMA” have confirmed this, an eight year old study concurred the “anabolic potency” of it. The medical field as a whole agrees that athletic prime men should not suffer from a testosterone deficiency barring cancer or some severe medical condition or, and this is the big one, having used steroids in the past. When not taken any longer, steroids will throw the body out of whack and cause a need to be supplemented. If your favorite fighter is one of the TRT guys saying it doesn’t matter, double check the records prior to and since using.

This is where Weidman has been the highest profile MMA champ to say emphatically “enough is enough” with all the baseball-esque nodding and looking the other way. As a champ he isn’t standing for it.

Weidman will defend his title for the second time in a a few months against Vitor Belfort, former UFC champion, who is coming off a revitalized 3-0 mark last year. All the fights were in Brazil where testing isn’t as strict as in the U.S. Weidman said he was all for fighting Belfort except he didn’t want to fight him if he continued to use TRT. Belfort has admitted he does. Las Vegas is the venue Weidman wanted and appears to have gotten. Now given that Belfort had failed prior steroid tests, he can’t–or at least at the moment can’t-qualify for an exemption anymore in Nevada. Weidman’s coach Ray Longo reiterated their stance last week on “Inside MMA” all his champ is looking for is “a level playing field.”

It can be argued that TRT alone did not give Belfort a perfect record in 2013, just as it can be argued that Bonds and Sosa wouldn’t have hit a ton of homers or Clemens wouldn’t have had a bunch of strikeouts if something else wasn’t involved. After all it is improbable that only a few major leaguers were using in the steroid era and only great talents could truly enhance their performance. Same with fighters. Actually with the exception of Belfort, the other TRT users among a notable group had losing records on the stuff.

But what Weidman and Longo are doing is to be commended. After all, if TRT was so above board why have so many fighters learned their opponent was on it after the bout? Why shouldn’t they, the fans and especially the betting public know straight up who had an exemption?

There can be arguments that TRT should be allowed while recovering from an injury, but stopped once training resumes. Some in other sports have said as much. What can’t be overlooked is the long term affect allowing TRT can have on MMA, just like the various forms of steroids have had on baseball. Eventually who is clear-cut winning by hard work, and who is benefitting from a boost will swirl the dark clouds over and around the cages.

If others take a firm stand as Weidman has, MMA will take a preemptive strike instead of striking out in a public relations collapse.

-Kenny

Got something you’re burning on? Tell the man himself on Kenny Rice’s Twitter or Facebook page.
Watch Kennyalong with Bas Rutten, LIVE every Friday at 9 ET|6 PT on “Inside MMA.”
Check out Kenny’s book “Not Hit Yet,” an insider look at the MMA world.


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