The world of professional sports is no stranger to steroids or people cheating to get ahead. The similarities between, for instance, a baseball player and a fighter sticking a needle in their arm is done so they will have less inflammation, less muscle wear and tear and can complete all season. It's also done in baseball so they can rocket some balls four hundred some yards out for a home run. Fighters also use the juice for less inflammation and wolverine super human healing. Less breakdown means longer training and more muscle. Now that is where the comparison ends, because the only one affected by cheating in baseball is the ball and the person’s moral integrity. When a professional fighter uses steroids, not only are they cheating their fellow athletes, they are putting another human being in harm’s way in what we hope never results in the death of another fighter.
These are the top cheaters (in no particular order as cheaters are cheaters no matter the level) who swore they never cheated, then, after getting caught, gave excuses as to how it did or did not get into their system.
15 Anderson Silva
The Spider was considered the greatest mixed martial artist to ever walk the planet a few years ago. He carried with him the longest win streak in UFC history. For 2,457 days, 16 consecutive wins and 10 title defenses, Anderson Silva was considered the greatest. After putting his hands down in a sloppy attempt to mock Chris Weidman, he was finally caught and The Spider fell. In a rematch that was meant to prove the first fight was a fluke, Chris Weidman perfectly checked an incoming kick and snapped Anderson Silva’s tibia (shin) in half.
This painful end to the fight was only made worse by his steroid use to get his leg back into fighting shape. The issue here isn’t only that he was caught with steroids in his system. He was caught with them before his fight with Nick Diaz and was still allowed to fight. The results were held until after the fight and after the UFC could cash in on the marquee name of Anderson “The Spider” Silva. Despite Anderson’s defense that he never took steroids, he had to very publicly explain to his students while coaching on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil that he would no longer be allowed to coach them. His name still carries a lot of weight, but his legacy is forever tarnished and is currently being dented more and more as he fights.
14 Wanderlei Silva
The Axe Murderer was one of the scariest men walking the planet in his prime. As the years have passed for Wanderlei Silva, he has softened and he has changed from outright psychopath into a friendly approachable huggable guy.
All of this came to a tipping point in May of 2014 when Silva was training for his upcoming fight against Chael Sonnen and a random drug test agent showed up at the gym. Due to the potential of failing a test and being fine or suspended, Wanderlei decided that he may have left his oven on and needed to duck out the backdoor and get home immediately to check on it.
Making all of this worse was Silva’s use of a lawyer who pushed the case back, then pushed it back again, then in the moment of truth, pushed the case back yet again. All of this brilliant legal strategy added up to a fun three-year suspension and the termination of Silva's contract with the UFC. It all ended with a legendary fighter forever being tainted with being a a hide and go seek champion rather than a fighter.
13 Josh Barnett
“I am a fighter, not a lawyer. I am innocent, and I should be fighting right now.”
So, what's Josh Barnett's story of steroid use? Simple, he was the youngest Heavyweight champion as of UFC 36 when he beat Randy Couture for the title. He then went on to get caught pee’ing Boldenone, Nandrolone, and Fluoxymesterone into a cup. This stripped him of his title and it was to be given too… Who? The guy he just beat? The UFC scrambled for a belt holder but the Heavyweight division was a shallow field. Barnett lost the belt and the division fell apart for some time until the UFC figured out a legitimate champion. But leaving the UFC with no one to wear their fancy gold belt is not even the worst of it.
Affliction, the clothing maker with skulls and brass knuckles shirts, tried it’s hand at promoting fights. They had some great names and some good fights and were shaping up to be a big thing. But money problems started to rise as promoting and being responsible for athletes is much more difficult than making trendy t-shirts. The money problems culminated with one final make or break show. They slotted the greatest Heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, against a top ten fighter in Josh Barnett.
This could have been a saving grace for Affliction. A fight that lived up to hype and sold Pay Per Views by the teraflop load. Then Barnett pee’d some more liquid steroids and the main event of the Affliction card was scrapped. Once the main event fell apart, the entire event tanked. None of the other fighters who counted on their fight money were paid. Affliction was already running in the negatives and then completely fell apart, explaining why it is no longer a promotion.
12 Nate Marquardt
Nate Marquardt has what is, without a doubt, the most common response to why he failed a drug test and how it was not his fault. He said, “I never thought it’d be an issue. I’d been taking some over-the-counter supplements at a Max Muscle store. It was something like what Mark McGwire took, androstenedione. I never thought of that stuff being tested. It was a stupid mistake. People are going to believe what they want to believe, but I’ve been clean in my last three fights — I’m not taking anything that’s not independently tested anymore — and I’m fighting just as well as I ever have…I know some guys just knowingly take steroids, but there’s not enough [information] about what causes false positives, about contamination risks, all that. You have to watch out for things. We don’t always know what not to take. That’s the real gray area. That’s my story.”
And it is a good story in itself, as it makes people believe that he didn’t take something that had steroids in it and that any of us could fall prey to this. And Marquardt is a nice guy, so we want to believe him. But Marquardt has also been accused of greasing for fights and a few other infractions here and there with hitting downed fighters and such. The opinion people should take is simple: Nate should know better. The people around him should know better.
11 Vitor Belfort
Vitor Belfort can make claims and say it’s for his testosterone levels which are low. Here is how this breaks down. Why would a professional fighter have low testosterone unless they did something earlier in their career to damage how their testosterone is made? Such as artificially adding a whole lot more than a human’s body naturally produces.
Think of it like an elastic tape. If you stick to your arm and pull it off a bunch of times, it loses its ability to stick. Belfort started getting busted for steroids started back in 2006, when he was caught at the very steroid friendly and now defunct fight promotion called Pride. At Pride 32, Vitor was caught with 4-Hydroxytestosterone in his system and given a $10,000 fine and a nine month suspension. His argument was the same at Nate The Great’s. “I had no idea.”
Now he might have slid under the radar with his then legal Testosterone Replacement Therapy but with that banned, it’s hard to explain how a guy who a year ago claimed he couldn’t make his own testosterone is magically able to do so now.
10 Stephan Bonnar
Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin helped make the UFC what it is today. To this day, UFC President Dana White has a picture on his desk of that first magical fifteen minutes of fisticuffs. After their first fight, which some people still consider the greatest fight in the history of the UFC, the rematch was scheduled and people were excited. Apparently too excited, as Stephan Bonnar tested positive for Boldenone. Once caught and with his reputation on the line, The American Psycho decided that it was time to fess up. Had he not been caught, he probably would not have been fessing. His response was simple. “I was desperate. My right elbow had been bad for a while, and I hurt it bad getting ready for Rashad [Evans on June 28]. Right after that fight, I thought I’d have some time off to do some therapy, rehab and heal. And five days later, I get a call to fight Forrest in a month and a half. I was worried. I was looking for something to speed up the healing. I just was worried I was not going to be able to fight, and they needed me. This wasn’t an undercard fight; it was the main event. Pulling out was not an option.”
In essence, he blamed his employers for forcing him to take the fight.
9 Tim Sylvia
Tim Syliva quickly rose through the UFC ranks and became the Heavyweight Champion by knocking out Ricco Rodriguez. And this is where it becomes sad. Sylvia was insecure about his body and it overtook him. He started to take steroids simply because he wanted to look better. When caught taking Stanozolol, he said:
“After I fought Ricco, I was in for a long layoff. I decided to try some things and maybe change my physique a little bit and get in better shape. But whatever I used, it came back positive. I don’t know how that happened. I did it so long ago and I was way off it before I fought McGee. I think they found it in my fat cells. I guess it stays in there for a while, huh? I heard what Barnett had used, so I used something different and I was only using it to trim my physique. I thought that what I was using, it was going to be out by the time I fought McGee. I fought Gan and apparently it wasn’t out.”
Even in that admission, there is something mentioned twice. I just wanted to trim my physique, making it an unfortunate story.
8 Royce Gracie
No MMA list is complete unless it has Royce Gracie. After a lengthy 90 minute battle with Kazushi Sakuraba, the rematch obviously carried a lot emotion for Royce Gracie. He waited years for this day and trained relentlessly. But something happened, something odd. And despite winning the fight against Sakuraba by decision, he was later found to have taken Nandrolone as it was still in his urine after the fight. His rational as to why it was there is fantastic as well, because Royce used the argument that only huge muscle men take steroids. No one small would, if you take them once you gain tons of muscle. His response was: “I have no idea what they’re talking about. Look at my first UFC. 178-pounds. Look at my last fight. 180. For accusing me of using drugs…I never gained a pound in my life. It’s not like I went from 178 to 200 pounds. It’s ridiculous.”
Someone should have told Royce that 125-pound marathon runners have been caught for steroids. Sometimes it’s not about muscle, but it’s about inflammation, injury, insecurity and a lot of other reasons. No matter what the reason, if it’s in your urine, the 'I don’t know what you’re talking about argument' is not a good one.
7 Sean Sherk
The Muscle Shark is no stranger to steroid accusations. BJ Penn was the most famous in his accusations, as he said scientifically: “We all know who is on steroids. You can see it in their nipples.” Now, we have no idea if you can see it in someone’s nipples, but I know that BJ Penn took that anger and put a beating on Sherk. So what did Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk say when he was caught with steroids in his system? He said the tried and true answer. However, when you look at his words, you realize he is saying: 'yes, I might cheat but I’ll catch it myself before you do.'
“I didn’t know you could go into a store like a GNC and buy something that would have illegal stuff in it, but I guess you can. I was stunned. I didn’t know that. I’ve also started doing my own pre-testing, which I’ll do before every fight now just to be sure… I took the polygraph test three times to try and prove that I was telling the truth. I know they say polygraphs aren’t 100% reliable, but after three tests you’d think that if I was lying it would have shown up in at least one of them. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve always said that and tried to prove that. I have absolutely nothing to hide. I’ve done everything I can do to clear my name. It’s up to each individual to look at the facts and decide for themselves whether they believe me or not. The problem is that a lot of people don’t bother to look at the facts first. They just hear ‘positive test’ and they look at me and what I’ve done and think, ‘Oh, he’s got to be on something.”
Now, we commend Sherk for going the extra step to clear his name. We really do. But either that lab tech was out to get him or he had something in his system that he shouldn’t have.
6 Antonio Silva
Antonio “Big Foot” Silva is a wonder of a human being. He is literally a giant. But earlier in his career. he had been caught with Boldenone in his system. His statement regarding that was simple: “I did not use the steroid Boldenone, or any other steroid of prohibited substance. I don’t agree and never have agreed with the use of this kind of product in order to win, for this is cheating. I will go to the full extent of my power and the law to prove my innocence in this matter.”
That is all well and good, but this test came from a 2008 fight in the now non-existent EliteXC. Flash forward a few years later and all, of a sudden, Big Foot found a technical way to get steroids by using testosterone replacement therapy. Which is odd, as why would an athlete need extra testosterone? Unless earlier in their life, they took something that damaged the way their bodies naturally made testosterone...
5 Alistair Overeem
When someone takes a look at Alistair Overeem, they instantly think: 'that guys on steroids.' But that’s just looking at a picture of him now. Look at a picture of him from 2007, when he was a tall skinny Dutchman making the 205 pound weight limit with some ease. He wasn’t huge compared to any other 205 pound fighter. Taller, but not huge. So within a few years, he instantly got from 205 pound to around 250-260? And it's not just weight, as he put on what looks like only muscle. But if that doesn’t convince you that he’s on steroids, his failed exams will!
For these tests, medical doctors get a blood or urine sample and they determine if something is in a normal ratio or not. Gere are results from a 2014 test. “Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer has confirmed to CagePotato.com that Alistair Overeem‘s testosterone/epitestosterone ratio registered at 14:1 in his recent failed drug test.”
So, here is the way it breaks down. Normal people have a 1:1 ratio. Fighters are allowed to have a 4:1 ratio, because why not. If they start hitting 6:1, they are caught. That is the way they did it in 2006. It’s different now, but that was what they put in place as the rule then. He had a 14:1 ratio. He had the same amount of testosterone in his system as 14 men. Those aren’t just elevated levels, those are 'did you not even bother to try and hide it' levels.
You might wonder what Alistair said about how he got so big, so fast. His answer. He eats horse meat. That’s how. Fantastic.
4 Chael Sonnen
The self proclaimed bad guy is one of the greatest talkers in all of MMA. Another thing that Chael is one of the best at, is the level of steroids found in his body. We just saw Alistair Overeem's ratio of 14:1. Keep that in mind. After Chael Sonnen lost to Anderson Silva, but performed admirably, fans thought that Chael had finally put everything together. That is until a drug test came back and they found out that Chael Sonnen had a 16:1 ratio of testosterone. Yes. He had as much testosterone in his system as 16 regular men. When confronted with this charge, Chael said he had hypogonadism and if he had to get TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) because of his low testosterone. If if he didn’t, he would never be able to father children.
No one questions him despite his suspension, as how can you tell a guy: 'no, play within the rules and lose your ability to father children?' To answer that question for you, the answer is simple. If he is currently, this week trying to father children. then yes, that excuse works. If he is not trying today, this week, than that excessive amount of testosterone is for sports use and not the production of children. The gangster of West Lin fooled everyone by just putting a simple problem in front of them that showed how lazy everyone was to simply look up an answer.
3 Yoel Romero
In December of 2016, Yoel Romero tested positive for a substance called Ibutamoren, a growth hormone secretagogue. The National Center for Biotechnology Information describes the substance, which is prohibited under the UFC's anti-doping policy, as stimulating growth hormone release "through a pituitary and hypothalamic receptor.” Yoel decided to fight this in court. They said, 'okay you were suspended for six months, you want to fight this in court it goes up to 9 months.' From there, he decided to settle out of court (meaning, apologize and take the six months) which he considered a victory. Because he got it from six to nine to six.
2 Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock was the man that the UFC needed to put on posters to sell fights. He was chiseled like a statue and had the look of the meanest bouncer you’d ever seen in your life.
Through all of his ups and downs, and becoming a man in his 50s with a 20 year old Olympian's body, Shamrock always urinated clean in cups. That was until February of 2016 when he fought Royce Gracie. Shamrock tested positive for nandrolone and methadone, an opioid used to treat pain or detoxify in people with a drug dependency. Shamrock also had an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. Shamrock's T-to-E ratio was 12:1.
He was shocked by the findings, saying what he took was "to control the swollen pituitary glands that did, in fact, have a positive effect," after he had been look at by doctors "due to high testosterone readings that concerned him to thinking it was cancer."
1 Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is known to be a little crazy. Crazy enough to submit urine that wasn't human? Of course. The NSAC reported that Silva's sample was "inconsistent with human urine" and suggested that the fighter “submitted an adulterated and/or substituted specimen for testing for the urinalysis.”
Silva admitted in a hearing that he was injecting steroids 30-45 days out from the Brandon Vera fight in order to recover from a back injury. It ended up costing him $33,750 in fines, as well as a one-year suspension. On top of that, his victory over Vera was changed to a no-contest. He was then, again, busted, but this time not for steroids. He was caught with marijuana metabolites, which somehow constitutes as a performance enhancing drug. But, this means two of his wins were overturned into no contest.