Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has previously been legally used in the martial arts realm in at least 15 major fights around the world, reported Fox Sports. On February 27, 2014, however, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) voted unanimously to ban the hormone treatment completely.
Effective immediately, therapeutic use exemptions will no longer be given for TRT use in any combat sport regulated by the state, which includes boxing and mixed martial arts.
The ban also applies for any fighter who had previously received a therapeutic use exemption for TRT. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) responded to the commission’s decision with the following statement: “The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy.
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.”
According to ESPN, Francisco Aguilar, the NSAC chairman, stated, “I would encourage the [Association of Boxing Commissions] to look at this issue for all commissions in all states across the country. I think it’s important that there be a standard and I think [the NSAC] is not afraid to set that standard.”
Dr. Timothy Trainor, an NSAC medical consultant, led a presentation during the commission meeting. He expressed his discomfort with approving TRT use because he argued it is a rare case for an athlete to have a legitimate need, and it is medically proven that prior steroid abuse can lead to a decrease or halt in testosterone production.
TESTOSTERONE CONTROVERSIAL PRIOR TO OFFICIAL BAN
The use of TRT among professional athletes has been hotly debated over the years, according to Yahoo! Sports. In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), athletes are allowed to use TRT if they have low testosterone levels. These fighters need to apply for a therapeutic use exemption.
Therapeutic use exemptions must be approved by the athletic commission of each district in which the athlete will be competing. Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Shane Roller, Forrest Griffin, and Todd Duffee have been granted exemptions by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, reported ESPN. Sonnen, who was diagnosed with hypogonadism in 2008, spoke of the decision to ban TRT: “[T]estosterone is more than a performance enhancer for me. It is a life enhancer. . . . I understand the abuse, but this is a medicine that helps people with a problem.” In 2010, after his fight with Anderson Silva in California for the middleweight title, the California commission announced that Sonnen’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was 16.9:1, more than four times above the state’s legal limit of 4:1.
The Telegraph, in the United Kingdom, reported that UFC fighter Travis Browne has previously stated that he does not use TRT even though he has low testosterone levels and can apply for the therapeutic use exemption. Browne has been in the UFC for 3 ½ years and holds a 7-1-1 record.
UFC fighter Vitor Belfort has been in the spotlight for his recent career revival, which coincided with the granting of a therapeutic use exemption and his exempted TRT use.
He has only been approved in Brazil and not in Nevada. Belfort was scheduled to participate in the UFC middleweight championship fight on May 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, but dropped out a few hours after the Nevada commission announced its TRT ban, reported the Los Angeles Daily News. He had been expected to file an application with the NSAC for a therapeutic use exemption.
FUTURE OF THERAPEUTIC USE EXEMPTIONS FOR TESTOSTERONE
According to Yahoo! Sports, the day after the NSAC issued its decision on TRT use, Brazil implemented the same ban.
TRT bans will likely raise new questions about testing procedures and standards to identify unauthorized TRT use by competing athletes, according to Fox Sports. Currently, in Nevada, an athlete who is illegally taking testosterone would only be identified if his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was above the state’s 6:1 cap. A carbon isotope ratio (CIR) test would then be used to determine whether the testosterone is natural or due to the use of TRT; however, because the test is expensive, it is rarely used.
Dana White, President of the UFC, has expressed his disapproval of TRT use. According to ESPN, when the Nevada commission passed its TRT ban, White stated: “We follow Nevada. It’s a great day for the sport. I applaud the NSAC. TRT needed to go away.”
Have You Experienced An Injury While Taking Low Testosterone Therapy?
If you or a loved one took prescription testosterone and suffered a cardiovascular injury, such as a heart attack or stroke, you may want to speak with an attorney to learn about your rights. Free and confidential consultations with our testosterone therapy lawyers are available by calling toll-free (866) 981-4800 or filling out the form to your right.