Part II Exclusive: VADA’s Margaret Goodman Hopes For Open MMA Discussion
By Michael Hatamoto
In our first interview with Dr. Margaret Goodman, she discussed how education is critical while discussing PEDs – here is our second conversation with the head of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) and the current state of doping in MMA.
Despite VADA’s continued status in professional boxing and MMA, Dr. Goodman isn’t necessarily worried about fans getting on the VADA bandwagon. However, she just wants fans to become more aware of what’s happening in the sport they like to support:
“I’m not concerned with fans standing behind any specific organization,” Dr. Goodman told Full Contact Fighter. “But they should be concerned with good fights. Good fights happen when the fighters are clean and enter into a bout with an equal chance. That means clean sport. If the fans love MMA, have respect for the athletes and want fairness, they need to speak out for clean sport. At the same time, they need to learn what fair testing is. That means organizations with vetted policies and procedures, not patched together programs to look on the surface like they have improved testing. It can be done, but it takes time and the willing to stand behind a problem. I hope one day commissions will do this.”
Although there seems to be a larger public discussion regarding PEDs, many sports fans simply don’t care – or don’t want to know – about PED usage among MMA fighters.
“Right now, I’m not optimistic. An example of why the public has not recognized the problem comes to mind with the recent uproar over judging at the Mayweather fight. People went ballistic over unfair scoring. But where is that same moral outrage when they watch a fight where a decision is overturned or a fighter loses because his/her opponent was on PEDs.”
It’s true that some major fights have been overturned for banned substances from one of the fighters, including everything from steroids and out of control testosterone usage all the way to positive tests for marijuana. The UFC and other MMA promotions run the risk of potential super fights being canceled due to positive drug tests, so the monetary reasons involved make it more difficult to crack down on doping.
Dr. Goodman has an optimistic outlook for the PED discussion in MMA, though admits there is a lot left that still must be done.
“I know I sound idealistic, but hope one day the typical commission mantra that fighter safety comes first will eventually not be a saying, but become a reality. Like many others, I hope it won’t take a death for that to happen. When we see a fighter cutting weight die – you have to wonder what other factors were involved. When we see the growing numbers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy resulting from contact sport, you have to wonder what role PEDs will when the research is concluded. I’m not a betting person, but I surmise the association could be greater than we believe.”
MMA is a great sport – as both a fan and writer – I am amazed with the physical and mental durability of fighters competing at the highest level. However, I am realistic to realize that PED use is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in the future.