Opinion: Is There A Tainted Supplement Epidemic In MMA?
By Michael Hatamoto
If MMA fans listened to fighters and their camps, it would seem that there is some type of tainted supplement epidemic facing our beloved sport. Instead, this seems more like an excuse to try and cover up failed tests for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), and behavior frowned upon by state athletic commissions.
“I do not believe there is an epidemic in tainted substances (in MMA),” said Dr. Margaret Goodman, President and CEO of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), in a statement to Full Contact Fighter. “I believe that the fighters are not sufficiently investigating what they are taking. Yes, there can be tainted supplements, or more often supplements that don’t clearly/correctly list all their ingredients. Sometimes a prohibited substance in a supplement can have several names that can mislead the user.”
Ultimately, even if athletes consult an athletic commission or a group such as the Drug Free Sport’s Resource Exchange Center, it’s up to the athlete to be aware of everything they are consuming – and putting into their bodies.
“It remains the athlete’s responsibility to know everything about any supplement/medication they are taking, especially whether or not it is prohibited. In Olympic competition, if an athlete tests positive and claims to have taken a tainted supplement, it is still considered a doping offense. Under some circumstances, the ban/suspension may not be as lengthy.”
I’m tired of hearing MMA fighters try and say supplements are causing them to test positive for banned substances. I believe that it can mistakenly happen – and that’s only a slim chance – though it’s the first excuse athletes use whenever they are caught cheating.
Unfortunately, MMA, similar to other professional sports, doesn’t seem interested in cracking down on dopers. A 9-12 month suspension may sound like a long time, but with some fighters only competing two or three times per year, the suspension isn’t a major deterrent.
Most recently, heavyweight Joey Beltran was popped for the banned steroid nandrolone, and said tainted supplements caused the positive test.
Besides Beltran, Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal, Vitor Belfort, Pawel Nastula, Sean Sherk, Cristaine ‘Cyborg’ Santos, amongst others, have also argued that they purchased legal, over-the-counter supplements that caused failed drug tests.