MMA's growing problem with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) hit close to home earlier this month for UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Fellow heavyweight Lavar Johnson, who trains alongside Velasquez at California's American Kickboxing Academy, lost his UFC roster spot after testing positive for increased levels of testosterone in the wake of a loss at UFC 157.
While Johnson remains his teammate, Velasquez showed no hesitation rallying around the sport's drug enforcement program and denouncing PEDs.
"There's rules out there," Velasquez said. "We all need to follow the same rules.
"Me, I'm a natural athlete. I think all my competitors should be the same. We should be all equal. Nobody should have an advantage like that on their side."
Velasquez isn't the first UFC titleholder to voice the same sentiment. Lightweight champion Benson Henderson and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre both recently advocated for more stringent drug testing in the form of blood testing and random testing -- two measures which Velasquez would absolutely support.
"Yes, I would," he said. "You can by looking [at me]. Me and Daniel (Cormier) were talking about -- I forgot who were saying it, but it was two guys, they were trying to think of the two guys that they think, for sure, are not on steroids or anything. The only ones they could come up with are me and Daniel. Just by looking at us, you can tell that we don't do anything. Or if we do, it's not very good stuff.
"So I think we're both on the side of [increased] testing. For sure, I'm all for that. Being natural, I think, is the best way to be even on the playing field."
More so than PEDs or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), the past six months have seen a string of UFC fighters suspended after testing positive for marijuana metabolites. The issue has become so dire, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner requested the Nevada State Athletic Commission revisit its current policies regarding marijuana.
As a resident of San Jose, CA, where marijuana is legal for medical purposes, Velasquez has a unique perspective on the situation.
"I'm looking at, kind of, two spectrums of it," Velasquez explained. "Living now in California, where you'll see it on the street, it doesn't seem as bad. It definitely [desensitizes you to it], seeing somebody just walking down the street, or having [dispensary] shops all around. It definitely does.
"It's a thing of where they draw the line. What's illegal and what's not as far as a substance."
While marijuana's spot on the banned substance list remains up for debate, Velasquez shares no remorse for anyone whose career suffers because of a PED suspension.
"I don't want to fight against somebody who's on something, who'd have a huge advantage," the heavyweight champion finished. "When we both are natural going in, it'll be the best guy that wins.
"That's why we have the testing and everything. It's a good thing. Hopefully that side of it kind of grows more and more, where people get caught beforehand. People will just stop eventually using because they know that if they are, they'll get caught."