Sports fans are quite familiar with the steroid issue in sports like baseball and football, but the sport of MMA may also enter its own steroid era. The “steroid era” has really hurt the sport of baseball and ruined the careers and reputations of some who would normally be first ballot hall of famers (see Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro). We have seen big name stars face suspensions over positive steroid tests. We have seen big name players admit to use of steroids. Frankly, I am tired of the talk of steroids in baseball. It has been such an issue that even congress has launched investigations into steroid use in sports.
This weekend it was reported that UFC heavyweight contender Shane Carwin was among 22 athletes listed as a recipient of steroids from Applied Pharmacy Services. Carwin’s name was listed during the sentencing of J. Michael Bennett. Also implicated is former WWE star Kurt Angle.
MMA Junkie reported that “Court documents refer to the 22 alleged recipients by initials only. Entry No. 17, identified as “S.C.” and “Professional Fighter,” claims the recipient received Trenbolone, Testosterone, Stanozolol injectable and Nandrolone from January to August of 2006.”
I am not prepared to argue Carwin’s guilt or innocence. I am interested in what Carwin has to say. His physique certainly does not help him here. However, I will say that Carwin has never failed a drug test and that should be noted.
While steroids is an issue in baseball and fans call steroid users as “cheaters” and seek to put asterisks by their records the same sentiment does not exist in mixed martial arts. There have been some fighters who have been vocal in opposition of steroid use in the sport and others who have asserted that steroid use is very common in the sport, however the reaction among the MMA fan base is not as negative as it is in other sports. Several notable fighters have failed drug tests and have continued to be popular in the cage. Fighters like Josh Barnett, Sean Sherk, and Tim Sylvia have tested positive. There is plenty of assumptions swirling around guys like Brock Lesnar as well.
Let me make two points….First, MMA does not need this type of media attention. There is already a perception among some that MMA fighters are barbarians. Second, I do not believe steroid use should be tolerated in MMA. I have heard others say it is not a big deal. People freaked out when baseball players did steroids because the steroids supposedly allowed them to hit a ball a little bit further. Steroids in baseball never hurt people besides the user. It may have tarnished the record books, but it certainly drew crowds. It may be “cheating” but it never put someone else’s life in jeopardy. MMA is a contact sport. If a fighter uses steroids and the subsequently get bigger and stronger and they can hit harder it puts their opponents life in more danger. That is why steroids should never be tolerated in MMA.
However, until Carwin fails a steroid test judgment ought to be reserved and fans ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, don’t expect Carwin’s name to be the last MMA fighter mentioned in the steroid conversation. As guys seek to gain an advantage among their peers and as the heavyweights try to compete with the behemoths like Brock Lesnar they will be willing to do anything to get an edge.