Nevada Bans TRT in Combat Sports: Belfort, Sonnen, Henderson Among Fighters Impacted

Nevada Bans TRT in Combat Sports: Belfort, Sonnen, Henderson Among Fighters Impacted

The Nevada State Athletic Commission announced a ban on testosterone-replacement therapy for boxers, mixed-martial artists, and other participants in state-sanctioned contests today. The announcement comes on the heels of George St. Pierre’s hiatus from the UFC. The promotion’s former welterweight champion cited lax oversight of performance-enhancing drugs as one source of his displeasure with fighting.

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT),” UFC president Dana White explained in a prepared statement. “We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field. We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling.” The statement marks a departure from White’s vehement and lengthy criticisms of St. Pierre’s complaints in January.

The decision makes its most direct impact on the upcoming middleweight championship bout between titlist Chris Weidman and challenger Vitor Belfort. The 36-year-old challenger’s late-career resurgence has coincided with a reliance on TRT. Given that past steroid use necessarily drops the body’s natural testosterone production, making scofflaws eligible for TRT because of their low testosterone counts, clean fighters complained that TRT exemptions rewarded cheaters. Nevada suspended Belfort for nine months in 2006 for performance-enhancing drugs.

Other fighters enjoying TRT exemptions in recent years include Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and Frank Mir. St. Pierre, frustrated with a lack of progress in ridding the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, remarked last month: “I tried to change things, and unfortunately–maybe for money reasons, maybe for image–they were not ready to do that.”

Photo credit: Paulo Whitaker, Reuters