PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

June 14, 2014

David Estrada column: Fighters learn it doesn't pay to cheat

PORT ARTHUR — One bout, three fighters with performance enhancing drug issues effectively destroying it. This may sound bizarre, even impossible, but it actually happened in the UFC.

 This odd saga started this February. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort was deemed the top contender to face middleweight UFC champion Chris Weidman for the title belt in May. But the often PED-plagued Belfort shot himself in the foot again.  

 On February 27, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) disallowed boxers’ and mixed martial artists' use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Fighters used to be able to use TRT if granted an exemption from the NSAC but this change in course blocked any use of synthetic testosterone across the board. It was largely based on the fact that many fighters were abusing the exemption using more testosterone than allowed.

 Vitor Belfort was apparently found to be one of the fighters abusing the exemption. The results of a February 7 random drug test revealed his testosterone level exceeded the allowed range granted by the therapeutic use exemption (TUE).  

 Belfort was immediately pulled from the middleweight UFC title match against Chris Weidman and replaced by Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.  

 This is all a precursor to the bout mentioned at the beginning of this article.

 Really love him or really hate him, Chael Sonnen and Brazilian MMA legend Wanderlei Silva were on a collision course to face each other at UFC 175 this July in Las Vegas. The two weren’t just opposing coaches of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil which aired over the spring they were bitter rivals. Part of the fuel added to their fire were disparaging remarks made by the American, Sonnen who compared American children talking about technology and medicine with Brazilian kids who play in the mud.

 An actual altercation broke out between Sonnen and Wanderlei on the set which was the first such occurrence on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Needless to say Sonnen vs. Wanderlei in the Octagon was highly-anticipated.  

 But they messed up . .

 In May, Wanderlei Silva refused to take a random, surprise drug test at his training facility. Wanderlei claimed he did not submit to the test because the drug tester did not show him proper identification. Subsequently, he did not file for a license to fight in Nevada for the Sonnen bout and was pulled from the fighter.

 Who would then fight Chael Sonnen? Enter our old friend, Vitor Belfort. He was tabbed to take Wanderlei’s spot in the UFC 175 bout, granted he would be under the microscopic eyes and tested regularly by the NSAC for PEDs.  

 Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva then became Chael Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort, which kept the USA vs. Brazil rivalry. Everything worked out to some degree.

 But lo and behold the third fighter stumbled. It was announced on Tuesday that Chael Sonnen failed an NSAC drug test due to banned substances, Anastrozole and Clomiphene, being found in his system. Doctors state such drugs can enhance an athlete’s performance.  Sonnen admitted use of the drugs but claimed he took them to increase his chances of fertility and to ween himself off of TRT which he had previously had an exemption for and now banned.

 Chael Sonnen was then removed from the bout and it went a shocking step further. He announced his retirement from MMA altogether.

 Then stood Vitor Belfort without a date with less than a month before the prom. With Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida and other top middleweights already taken his fight was scrapped altogether.

 If there is one thing learned from this sad tale it’s that it does not pay to cheat. No one wins be it the fighters or fans.

 This week’s column is dedicated to the memory longtime Groves martial arts instructor Les Armentor who passed last Wednesday. I never trained under Les but I met him when I was a youngster while my little brother trained with him. Armentor touched many lives teaching the importance of discipline and honor — something countless martial artists and people use to this day.

 

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