By Lance LeVan
In the past year or so, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has had a string of high-profile fighters fail drug tests for performance enhancing drugs like testosterone and other steroids.
Last month, the UFC held a press conference where it announced a new plan to begin implementing comprehensive out-of-competition random PED testing for its fighters.
The organization also announced it would be advocating for longer suspensions and more severe punishments for fighters who test positive for any banned substance. Current suspensions are nine months, but the UFC mentioned it would look into possibly extending bans to either two or four years.
One of the most vocal advocates of harsher punishments being handed down is UFC welterweight contender Matt Brown. He recently stated the suspension for first-time offenders should be five years.
“The No. 1 thing to do is harsher penalties,” Brown said. “First offense, five-year ban. Yea, that’s going to sway a lot of guys.
“It’s going to turn a lot of guys away from doing it. You’d have to really, really turn yourself around to be able to come back from that. You’d be forgotten about and that’s the way it should be. You should be forgotten about. If you’re going to take steroids, you should be forgotten about. If it’s against the rules, it’s against the rules. The fact is, it’s cheating. Harsher penalties are the way to go.”
Now, in my opinion, yes, the UFC needs to have harsher penalties in place for fighters who get busted for taking PEDs. But even I think that five years for a first offense is a bit extreme. Maybe make it two years for the first offense and 4-5 for the second. Now you are talking about 6-7 years of a fighter’s career spent on suspension. If a fighter didn’t learn after the first offense, you can bet your sweet ass, he or she would learn after the second one.
It is my hope that the UFC and Dana White come down hard on this topic, but I have the distinct feeling that they will waver on this and be extremely lenient with the new punishments. It is not in their best interest for fighters to be “all natural,” unless all of the fighters are tested all the time.
In my opinion, if they are all on the same, level playing field then it is fair. But you always will have that 1 percent of athletes in any given sport who will try to get around the rules and sidestep doing what is right. Because of them, the rest of the athletes in the sport have to bear the brunt of public scrutiny about being dope heads and “roided out” freaks. If we’re going to be “fair” about it, test them all and test them all the time.