On Wednesday, April 4, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) confirmed that heavyweight Alistair Overeem had tested positive for elevated testosterone when he was recently screened following a press conference for UFC 146.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency considers anything above a 4-1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio to be a positive test. The NSAC confirmed that Overeem's ratio exceeded 10-1 T/E. Overeem can request to have his "B" sample tested, or he can go before the NSAC and explain why his testosterone levels were elevated in hopes of getting licensed for his UFC 146 fight.
I must confess that I'm at a loss for words with the Overeem situation. It doesn't shock me that he tested positive, but when he worked out his issues with the NSAC last year, I hoped all of the suspicions surrounding him would finally go away. Yet now there's no way that anyone will give him the benefit of the doubt again.
One thing fans should understand is that Overeem didn't pop positive for steroids, which is something many people have suspected him of abusing for years. Instead, it was his testosterone levels that were heightened. I believe this is something that athletes can use to explain away a positive test.
Steroids are drugs that athletic commissions can specifically identify in tests. Testosterone is a bit more undefined. Fighters can inject themselves with testosterone and know they it will exit their bodies quickly. Therefore, it's harder for athletic commissions to catch someone abusing the hormone. With this in mind, I think Overeem's positive test raises suspicions about his entire career.
There are still going to be people out there who defend Overeem. However, perception is reality. Overeem had issues with the NSAC prior to his 2011 fight with Brock Lesnar. That aroused suspicion that he had either popped positive or would test positive if given a random drug test. There's no proof that he's done anything in the past, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Overeem used to fight at 205 pounds. Now he's a massive heavyweight who could easily make super-heavyweight.
It's too early to tell what will happen with Overeem, but if his UFC fight with Junior Dos Santos is cancelled, I think Zuffa should consider firing him. The organization has to make a stand against performance enhancing drugs at some point. With the heavyweight division stronger than it's been in years, the UFC can risk sending the rest of its athlete's a message. Cheating isn't acceptable in MMA.
Derek Ciapala has been following MMA since the days when Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought in the octagon. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
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