Taking full responsibility for the problems that led to his firing over the weekend, Nate Marquardt
explained that a high testosterone level caused by hormone replacement therapy (HRT) led to the medical suspension that knocked him from the main event of the recent UFC
on Versus 4.
Making his first public statements since the incident, Marquardt appeared with manager Lex McMahon on The MMA Hour for a one-hour interview to address the cause of his termination, which had been until now a mystery.
He explained that in August 2010, issues with sluggishness, memory loss and irritability led him to see his primary care physician, who discovered he suffered from low testosterone levels and recommended HRT. Marquardt applied for and received an exemption from the New Jersey state athletic commission for his March 2011 fight over Dan Miller
The approval though, came with a caveat. After the fight, Marquardt needed to stop the treatment for eight weeks so a New Jersey commission-approved endocrinologist could re-check his levels and make sure his natural levels were indeed low, making the therapy a medical necessity.
In the meantime, though, Marquardt accepted the fight with Story, and attempted to gain HRT clearance in Pennsylvania, the host state of the scheduled fight.
Because of the eight-week treatment absence, Marquardt's levels fell low, and with three weeks remaining to his fight, Marquardt's doctor gave him a testosterone shot to combat the problem. Marquardt's levels were regularly monitored and as he approached fight week, he knew they were high, but expected them to drop to satisfactory levels by weigh-in day.
"The week of the fight I requested several tests," Marquardt said. "Each test showed that the levels were going down. I took a test on weigh-in day, and it was still above the range the athletic commission was going to let me fight."
"But [it was] in close proximity, and it had been trending down significantly throughout the week," McMahon added.
At that point, Marquardt was informed he was not going to be allowed to fight and put on suspension.
"There are things I messed up," he said. "I have to take responsibility."
But, however, one thing the duo stressed is that Marquardt never made an effort to hide anything, and that he had been in constant contact with Pennsylvania's commission as well as the UFC, which was aware of the issue. In fact, not only had he gone through New Jersey, but also fights in Texas and Germany, in which he disclosed the situation to the governing bodies. (In Germany, where there is no commission, the UFC regulated itself.)
"Nate was hiding nothing," McMahon said. "He made every effort to comply. When he found out his results were high, he ran out of time."
Looking back, Marquardt, who cried at two different points of the interview, regrets several actions that may or may not have contributed to the problem. One thing he pointed out was that several years ago, he regularly took androstenediol, a popular supplement that was sold over-the-counter at nutrition shops until being reclassified as a steroid in 2005 and banned. Marquardt said he took the supplement for several years and wonders if it could have compromised his system and led to low testosterone production.
He also said he should have better monitored his ranges through blood tests soon after taking his first testosterone shot.
In addition, he added that when he went through the New Jersey commission protocol for an exemption, they raised some red flags about his doctor, including that he had prescribed an "off-label" prescription for Marquardt, basically meaning he had furnished Marquardt with a drug that was designed for a different use.
"From what I understood, it was common for doctors to use it for that reason," Marquardt said.
In retrospect, his team admits that should have been something that alerted their radar.
"The NJ commission sent a very clear statement that the doctor he was using had been incomplete, was using protocols that were not approved by the USADA," McMahon said. "At that point in time, that should have been a significant indicator to go see a specialist, to go see someone whose core competency was this. So I think that's another area where Nate and our team have to take responsibility. At the end of the day, you're dealing with a high-level professional athlete, one of the best fighters in the world. How could you potentially jeopardize that situation? Go to the best doctor you could get your hands on."
McMahon and Marquardt said he will no longer be using his original doctor and have begun the process of finding a highly qualified specialist.
But as of now, his MMA career remains in limbo. Marquardt said that he took a test on Sunday morning that had him well within the standard to fight. He hopes to be taken off suspension as early as Wednesday, when the Pennsylvania commission members are scheduled to meet and review the most recent set of tests.
But what is next for him remains for now, anyone's guess. McMahon said he's already received contract and fight offers for Marquardt, and that when he's ready to move on, it won't take long to find him a deal.
Curiously, after a 14-fight tenure with the UFC, Marquardt and his team found out he had been fired like everyone else, through Dana White's online video just after weigh-ins. The two only had a short conversation after he was suspended by the commission, with White asking him "How you can you let this happen?" Because of White's anger, Marquardt said he was not overly shocked that he was cut, and that it was something he "half-expected." He added that he hopes to get another chance to fight in the UFC one day, but that it's something out of his control.
"I just want to get past this situation right now, get off suspension, let the dust settle and go from there," he said, adding that when he does return, it will be as a welterweight.
If there is one silver lining to this all, Marquardt says that the HRT use might have saved his marriage. The treatment, he said, took away the moodiness and irritability that made him difficult to live with.
It's a choice he had reinforced shortly after he lost out on his big fight, and got fired from his big job. When speculation abounded and rumors and disgust were hurled his way, Team Marquardt closed its ranks.
"Of course it's a nightmare and very stressful and unimaginable in certain instances, but at the same time, I lean on my faith in God," said Marquardt, who apologized to the UFC as well as his sponsors, friends and family. "My wife has been so supportive. I got back to the hotel after weigh-ins. My family was there, and I realized I'm still such a blessed man. My daughter's there, and my wife. I still feel very blessed."