Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least that’s the excuse of MMA fighters who get caught red handed, arguing that the stakes at the top level demand to engage in a risk to earn that extra 1%. One victory can be the difference between a life amongst the elite or being put on the scrap heap, but when all the rhetoric is said and done, the MMA has a history of dealing with cheats.
Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDS for short, allows fighters to punch harder, last longer and recover quicker. The line becomes blurry when sports scientists get involved behind the scenes, as we’ve seen to scandalous lengths with athletics and cycling. The tentacles for PEDs has a far reach, with Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger admitting that soccer has a huge problem. That is a powder keg waiting to explode.
Whether it’s anabolics, blood doping, steroids, stimulants or diuretics, MMA fighters are risking life and limb to gain an advantage and it won’t be until they retire or get caught that they’ll understand the error of their ways. Certain fighters face fatal health problems pushing themselves to the limit, outlining how idiotic drug taking can be.
But for all the common sense and public warnings sent out to athletes, many of them fail to listen. The problem is reaching unprecedented levels to the point where one trainer is advocating for a split in the sport – one league for clean fighters, another for drug takers. This must be cause for pause for the decision makers at HQ because that model cannot be sustainable.
These are the top 15 drug scandals in MMA history that rocked the sport and sullied its reputation.
13 Kimo Leopoldo
12 Vitor Belfort
11 Nate Marquardt
10 Nick Diaz
9 Pawel Nastula
8 Kit Cope
7 Cung Le
6 Stephan Bonnar
4 Wanderlei Silva
3 Thiago Silva
2 Royce Gracie
1 Josh Barnett
Perhaps the UFC saw the best of Josh Barnett; perhaps he had more in the tank. The sad thing is for the American MMA fighter we’ll never know how great or otherwise he could have been had he been clean. In 2000 he took out non other than Randy Couture by TKO to become the youngest heavyweight champion in the UFC, until that title was taken away because of a banned substance testing. That cast a shadow over name and reputation, which seemed to disappear until 2009. Gearing himself to take on Fedor Emelianenko, the CSAC pulled the fight when Barnett tested positive for anabolic steroids. With so many dodgy fighters coming and going, Barnett has enjoyed stints in wrestling and commentary post his fighting career, but UFC fans will always consider him a two-time cheat.
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