The Absurdity of Recreational Drug Testing in MMA

BY: John-Paul Wolfe

No good can come from discovering that Nick Diaz used marijuana or that Jon Jones had cocaine in his system a month out from his title defense. As long as fighters are not competing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol the athletic commissions and promoters should discontinue their investigation into the recreational drug use of competitors. Every minute and every dollar that is spent discovering the recreational drug habits of combatants is taking away resources from the one and only drug test that the authorities should be interested in, PEDs. In a sport where an unfair advantage can lead to serious long term injury, all fighters should be tested to ensure an even playing field.

The argument that is likely to be circulated following Jon Jones recent positive test for cocaine is that having a world champion who uses drugs sets a bad example for young fans, and thus this behavior should be stopped. Ok. But which young fans would have known about Jones’ drug habit had it not been exposed to the world through a pointless out of competition drug test? Now the message that is sent to the masses is that you can use cocaine and still the be greatest fighter on the planet. This seems more than a little counterproductive.

When fighters are losing money, having victories stripped from their record and in some cases being fired from their job because of positive drug tests for marijuana and other non-performance enhancing drugs while others get away with using PEDs that are rarely or never tested for, something is very wrong. But there are few options for remedying this system of injustice. MMA certainly cannot rely on athletic commissions to see the error in their ways. Let’s remember that the most respected and prestigious athletic commission in combat sports, The Nevada State Athletic Commission, allowed fighters to compete with synthetic testosterone as long as a corrupt doctor signed off on it. And as if that wasn’t foolish enough, they then turned to arguably the most prolific PED-cheater in the history of MMA, Chael Sonnen, to be their advisor on the topic of ‘Testosterone Replacement Therapy’. As it stands, the best thing for the MMA community to do is give a pass and continue to support all fighters whose private lives and reputations are unfairly tarnished by these meaningless drug tests.