Michael Bisping has summed up the drastic consequences that come with the misuse of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in MMA, and revealed he will demand to know before all of his future fights whether his opponent is on TRT.
Bisping, who may need surgery on a nerve problem in his neck, was beaten in his most recent outing by Vitor Belfort in a loss that derailed his middleweight title dream. He must now rebuild against Alan Belcher on April 27.
It was revealed after the fight that Belfort had been granted therapeutic use exemption for TRT, something Bisping did not know. Athletes in MMA are allowed to boost their testosterone levels if proven to be lower than the average, but some fighters abuse the system to take their levels way above that of a standard human being.
Bisping labels the use of TRT “absolute bullsh*t”, particularly in the case of a fighter like Belfort, who has failed drug tests in the past.
“I’ve said to my manager, ‘From now on, I want to know in advance if my opponent is on TRT’,” Bisping told ESPN. “I don’t want to know afterwards, I want to know before. If they are, I want his levels looked at properly, maybe by my own doctor or somebody independent, to see if it’s needed. If it’s not needed, he needs to come off it.
“A normal person’s testosterone is 1:1. They’re allowed to be 6:1. That’s 6:1. It’s bollocks. It’s dressed up cheating. It’s a very clever way to manipulate the system. I don’t agree with it, period.”
Explaining how TRT can give a fighter an unfair edge, Bisping said: “Apparently it makes your muscles bigger and makes you stronger. But the main thing is the training camp, you recover a lot better. I train hard Monday and Tuesday, by Wednesday my body is killing. So Wednesday you can’t train as hard and as the week progresses you get worse and worse. The weekend comes, you say ‘Thank God’, you take two days off and then go again.
“If you’re on testosterone, you can train like a madman every session.
“But my boxing coach said something recently and he’s right, it’s not just the physical side of things, it’s mental as well. You’ve got all these stresses, training camp, three kids… all these things, the other guy is doing the same thing but he has extra testosterone. So these stresses are somewhat alleviated.”
Bisping questioned why Belfort, who had been found guilty of taking steroids in the past, was allowed to boost his testosterone levels – which had likely been lowered as a result of his past misdemeanours.
“It’s nonsense, this is a guy who failed a drug test in the past, and only a small portion of people in the world suffer from low testosterone – hypogonadism. But a high percentage of UFC fighters seem to be on TRT. Why? Because the side effects of taking steroids is that you stop producing your own testosterone. So they’ve abused steroids in the past, they don’t produce it themselves, so now they qualify for TRT.
“It’s allowing cheats to continue cheating. It’s nonsense. This isn’t baseball or football. We’re hurting each other. Why aren’t footballers allowed to take TRT? But you’re allowing fighters? Fighters who could potentially kill somebody? It’s wrong on so many levels and it’s absolute bullsh*t.”