NSAC bans TRT, UFC supports the ruling

credit Heidi Fang/MMA Fight Corner

credit Heidi Fang/MMA Fight Corner

In a Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) meeting on Thursday morning, the commission set a new precedent, unanimously voting to ban testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Effective immediately, all applications for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) requesting use of TRT will be denied. Furthermore, anyone who has been approved for TRT in the past by the NSAC, such as Chael Sonnen, will now have their TUEs rescinded and voided.

Recently TRT has been a hot topic, especially as Vitor Belfort is slated to fight on May 24, 2014 at UFC 173 in Las Vegas, NV. Belfort (24-10) is expected to challenge current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman (10-0) in the main event for the title.

Belfort, 36, was expected to appear before the NSAC prior to the contest to apply for a TUE for TRT. That will no longer be the case. UFC President Dana White made clear during a media luncheon in Las Vegas this month that the main event of UFC 173 would go on regardless of whether or not Belfort was issued a TUE.

According to White, Vitor was tested by the NSAC immediately after he arrived in Las Vegas this month. In Nevada, the allowed testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio is 6-to-1.

In 2006, following Pride 32 which took place in Las Vegas, Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone. Dr. Timothy Trainor, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked as a consultant to the NSAC since 2007, revealed to the commission that athletes who need to use TRT are often past steroid abusers. He recommended to the NSAC ahead of the vote that anyone who was on record as testing positive for banned substances, specifically PED’s and elevated testosterone, be denied moving forward.

The other cause for needing TRT was defined as hypogonadism, an endocrine disorder which is caused by the body’s inability to produce testosterone or estrogen. Dr. Trainor stated that hypogonadism is extremely rare and noted that just one percent of the population could suffer from it. Head trauma or brain tumors were also listed as possible factors for needing TRT.

Commissioner Pat Lundvall and Dr. Trainor both weighed in on past performance enhancing drug use. Prior to the decision being made, Trainor said he didn’t want to reward previous PED users by issuing them an exemption. Lundvall agreed.

Additionally, the Association of Ringside Physicians statement on TRT was also brought to the table. Their statement read:

“The incidence of hypogonadism requiring the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in professional athletes is extraordinarily rare. Accordingly, the use of an anabolic steroid such as testosterone in a professional boxer or mixed martial artist is rarely justified. Steroid use of any type, including unmerited testosterone, significantly increases the safety and health risk to combat sports athletes and their opponents. TRT in a combat sports athlete may also create an unfair advantage contradictory to the integrity of sport. Consequently, the Association of Ringside Physicians supports the general elimination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy.”

Commissioner Skip Avansino took the findings into consideration and ultimately echoed their sentiments.

In the end, Avansino made the initial vote to ban TRT in Nevada. Lundvall seconded the motion and Chairman Francisco Aguilar and Commissioner Bill Brady voted in favor of the ban, making it a unanimous call to prohibit TRT.

Lundvall hoped the NSAC’s ban on TRT would set a new standard. Ideally, she wants the NSAC to reach out to other commissions about their findings to eliminate TRT across the board.

Previously, requesting a TUE in Nevada required that the applicant provide the commission with all related medical history from their licensed physician. Actual lab reports, medications used for treatment, lists of every request submitted for a TUE with other licensing bodies, and past use of banned substances was all taken into account when the NSAC reviewed applications exemptions. Furthermore, the athlete was required to answer if they’d tested positive for a banned substance in the past and explain their case.

White has been very vocal about his stance on the use of TRT in combat sports. On several occassions, White has said that he’d be happy if it was banned. Moreover, he’s stated that perhaps fighters who use TRT are too old to compete and should contemplate retiring.

Following the ruling, the UFC issued an official statement about their stance on the ban:

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 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.”

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