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Yoel Romero: Fans responsible for educating themselves on USADA issues

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

NEW YORK — Rarely does a day go by when Yoel Romero doesn't see something on Twitter from a fan telling him he's a steroid user or a juice head. The UFC middleweight contender realizes his friend Jon Jones is probably going through the same thing right now after he was suspended one year for a UFC anti-doping violation this week.

Romero's concern is that the vocal fans who come into his mentions and notifications don't have a firm grasp on the full situations.

"It bothers me that the fans, that people won't try or intend to try to learn a little bit more," Romero told MMA Fighting on Thursday at UFC 205 media day through a translator. "It does bother me."

Romero meets Chris Weidman at UFC 205 on Saturday night here at Madison Square Garden. It's his first fight back from a six-month suspension from USADA for failing a drug test.

There are two things to note about Romero's situation with USADA that also extends to Jones: Neither one of them tested positive for flat-out steroids and both were cleared by USADA of knowingly ingesting banned substances. Romero got a six-month suspension because USADA tested a diuretic supplement he took and it came back contaminated.

Romero, 39, tested positive for a substance called Ibutamoren, a growth hormone secretagogue that stimulates the production of growth hormone in the body. It's a performance-enhancing drug, sure. But not a steroid. And USADA found that Romero didn't take it purposely.

In the Jones case, three arbitrators ruled that while Jones was "reckless" in taking what he called a "dick pill," he most likely did not knowingly try to cheat. Jones also didn't test positive for a steroid. Actually, the two substances he tested for, clomiphene and Letrozol, actually fall under a lighter maximum suspension (one year) than other drugs that can earn fighters up to a two-year suspension.

Jones, 29, only got a one-year suspension from the arbitration panel because they felt he was incredibly negligent in taking the sexual-performance tablet and not attempting to find out if it was within the confines of the UFC anti-doping policy and the WADA Code.

Romero believes fans have been unable to make the distinction in an area of sport and science that is far more grey than black and white.

"If you're going to make comments on economy, study economy," Romero said. "If you're gonna make comments on world history, make sure you learn world history. If you're gonna save lives and be a doctor, you need to study medicine. Then, you will be able to make comments on economy, on medicine, and on world history."

"Soldier of God" doesn't think the onus is on the UFC or USADA to better educate. It's about the fans taking the time to learn before engaging on social media, he said.

Romero went into a proverb Wednesday about a drunkard and a friend he grew up with. The friend eventually became a doctor and ran into the drunkard years later. He pulled him to his office, poured whiskey in one cup and water in the other. In both cups, the doctor put a worm. In minutes, the worm swimming in the whiskey died; the one in the water lived.

The doctor asked his friend what the experiment told him about alcoholism.

"I don't have any worms left," the drunkard said happily. "They're all dead."

Romero said even if people are taught, they can still interpret things in a different way than was intended.

"In other words, it's not what they teach you," Romero said. "It's what you want to see. USADA can show and teach, UFC can show and teach the fans, but what do the fan want to see? Never was it talked about steroids when USADA gave out their [press release]."

And yet Romero and Jones will likely get the same kind of tweets the rest of their careers.

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