With the recent suspension of Chris Leben for the use of prescription painkillers, it prodded my thoughts on the spirit of the banned substance rule. Since the first time athletes were tested for certain substances, the idea was to prevent unfair competitive advantage. I’m not saying I condone the use of any substance, but how are painkillers considered a competitive advantage? Every fighter has pain every day of their lives… whether they’re fighting or not. It’s the nature of the game.
Me? I love to play with pain; makes me feel sharper and stronger. However, in my experience with teammates as a wrestler and football player, I learned almost everyone does something to deal with injuries and the inevitable pain… prescribed or not. There’s no advantage or performance enhancement related to it. However, once someone starts to use these highly addictive painkillers, it’s difficult to stop.
Personally, because of the rampant abuse of painkillers such as Oxycodone and the like, I generally agree it should be a banned substance unless it’s prescribed; on the other side of it… it’s no performance enhancer, and testing for it violates the spirit of the rule. If anything, it retards the body’s ability to react and dulls one’s mental acuity. Taking it before a match is like conceding before the fight even starts; so why is it (or marijuana, for that matter) on a list of performance enhancing banned substances?
Leben lost his match. He got pummeled like his body was there and his mind wasn’t. We don’t know if Leben was prescribed the medication because the UFC has not released any details surrounding Leben’s test. Regardless, Leben took Oxycodone and Oxymorphone and they are considered narcotics. Banned substances are banned substances… those are the rules of the game. In any case, I hope Leben takes this time to train hard, add to his skills, and get his mind focused on a promising career ahead.
*Note: The following are considered banned substances by most athletic commissions: Stimulants, narcotics, marijuana, anabolic agents, peptide hormones, masking agents, diuretics, glucocorticosteroids, anti-estrogenic agents, and most asthma medications.