The following is an editorial, expressing the opinions of MMA writer and one of the more obnoxious Fight Nerd correspondents Peter Lampasona. The opinions expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect those of The Fight Nerd.com or any of its contributors.
After failing a now infamous random drug test from the Nevada State Athletic Commission last month, slated UFC 146 heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem applied for a fighter’s license as normal on Monday. Neither Overeem nor his management has released any statement on how they intend to procure a license from the same commission that tested Overeem, but the news has been filled with speculation as to what, exactly The Demolition Man’s defense will be. However, no matter what bit of misdirection Overeem tries to play to make one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the sport’s history happen, the licensing of Alistair Overeem in the state of Nevada will be an embarrassment to all sanctioning bodies within the Association of Boxing Commissions.
When Overeem first applied for his license, MMA legend Bas Rutten went to his twitter account to tell the world that the fight between current champion Junior Dos Santos and Overeem may still be on due to “a technicality.” While every pundit and news site has their own theories as to what that technicality may be, the most believable came from MMA Mania’s Larry Pepe in the excerpt, below, who feels Overeem can go to the well for the extremely popular therapeutic use exemption.
Read more about Overeem’s possible outs, and how no excuse is good enough to sway public opinion after the jump.
An application for a TUE need only be submitted to the NSAC early enough for the commission to have a reasonable period of time to evaluate the request. A prudent fighter would probably submit all the appropriate paperwork and medicals a few weeks before the fight, but even the most diligent would be highly unlikely to provide the info two months before.
Accordingly, a fighter could fail the out of competition test because he had not already applied for or been granted a TUE, but appeal such failure on the basis that he had a medical reason to be on the drug in question (in this case testosterone) and that he had not applied for the TUE because the commission’s own guidelines do not mandate that the application had to be submitted at the present time. Further, I expect that Team Overeem will show up in Nevada on the 24th with medical records, doctor verification and further testing in hand. What kind of testing?
Blood testosterone level testing.
T/E ratio only shows that synthetic testosterone has been used, thereby upsetting the naturally occurring 1:1 balance that is normal for most. But it doesn’t tell you how much ACTUAL testosterone is coursing through the athlete’s bloodstream — only that all the testosterone in their blood wasn’t provided by Mom and Dad but was increased through unnatural methods.
Overeem could argue, unlike Nate Marquardt’s situation at UFC on Versus, that the actual amount of testosterone in his system as shown by a blood test is well within normal limits and therefore not performance enhancing at all. The closer the dates of those blood tests are to the date of his T/E Ratio failure (March 27) the more appealing the argument is from a public relations standpoint.
Pepe’s theory is still just that. No one will know what grounds Overeem will apply for his license on until the NSAC meeting on April 24th. However, the most likely defense that Pepe laid out is also the most suspect. The Demolition Man grew into his heavyweight build rapidly and mostly in Japan where there is no government-supervised testing for artificial testosterone. This growth spurt has caused steroid allegations to follow Overeem around. He has repeatedly and outwardly denied doing anything other than radically changing his diet.
Overeem has made vlogs of cooking horse meat and claiming that it was things like what he was demonstrating on camera and not artificial testosterone that was responsible for his size. There has never been a fighter with more documented denials of artificial testosterone use. If Overeem turns around and says that he’s been taking artificial testosterone all along, but it was all under doctor’s orders, there is not a living soul that will believe such treatments were properly documented and disclosed. Should Overeem get licensed under the therapeutic use exemption, the TUE being a back door by which big draws can still get licensed even if they are caught cheating will cease to be an opinion of loud-mouthed editorials and become a stone fact of the MMA business.
However, even if Overeem uses an argument that will be more compelling to both the NSAC and the public at large, even if Overeem turns out to be innocent of any wrongdoing in a legal sense, he’s already been convicted in the court of public opinion. The Overeem situation has gotten to the point where even his normally quiet and sunny opponent, Junior Dos Santos, has expressed his disgust.
In a statement issued to Portuguese-language site Globo, Dos Santos said that Overeem being allowed to fight would be an insult to the sport. The available English translation is a little garbled, but there were a few sentiments made by Dos Santos that were quite clear. First, that he would fight Overeem if the NSAC approved of it. Second, that Overeem was caught cheating and that, no matter what happens in the fight, it will be unfair to himself and to the sport of MMA.
Dos Santos also went on to call for random blood tests in all fighters for the sake of the purity of the sport.
One of the trickiest parts of Overeem’s potential licensing is that, should Overeem fight, his reputation will recover. Fans will forgive just about anything in exchange for a few good performances. If Lee Murray broke out of jail and scored multiple spectacular victories in a row, he’d quickly become America’s sweetheart. But, the idea of the NSAC keeping the sport clean of unfair chemical advantages will be dead and buried.