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Testosterone Replacement Therapy: An introspective look at the debate from all angles
UFC President Dana White is a passionate man, who at times seems to have the ability to use his blunt and assertive nature to draw some serious attention and loud noise towards the topics he’s usually less than content with. With his recent comments and semi-threats regarding the use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy – stemming from what was apparently a few isolated and recent events – he seems to have the entire MMA world listening attentively yet again.
With that said, TRT is an issue that has been popping up in conversation for the past 4-5 years, with its frequency of which increasing steadily up to what seems to be its proverbial boiling point that we’re now witnessing.
There have been many opinions on the subject matter since the term was first mentioned in the media for the very first time. Although we’ve never had more information on the subject than we do now, so I’m going to make it my job to list every perspective on the topic as they all bring up and make some valid arguments, which I’ll be splitting up into simple groups of pro’s and con’s.
But first off, for those of you who may be new to the topic and just lacking information or even those of you who may know quite a bit, but want some more background info on the discussion, let’s get a few definitions out of the way to give you a basis and keep you in the loop. And who knows, like myself, you just might be a bit surprised by some of the information contained in these basic Wikipedia definitions:
TRT – Testosterone Replacement Therapy otherwise known as Androgen replacement therapy is a hormone treatment often prescribed to counter the effects of male Hypogonadism. It is also prescribed to lessen the effects or delay the onset of normal male aging. Additionally, androgen replacement therapy is used for men who have lost their testicular function to disease, cancer, or other causes. As men enter middle age they may notice changes caused by a relative decline in testosterone: fewer erections, fatigue, thinning skin, declining muscle mass and strength, more body fat. This dissatisfaction with the changes of aging has led to the development of the idea of androgen replacement therapy.
Hypogonadism – Otherwise known more specifically in men as Hypoandrogenism is caused primarily by either dysfunction, failure, or absence of the gonads (hypergonadotropic) or impairment of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland (hypogonadotropic), which in turn can be caused by a multitude of different stimuli, including genetic conditions (e.g., GnRH/gonadotropin insensitivity and enzymatic defects of steroidogenesis), tumors, trauma, surgery, autoimmunity, radiation, infections, toxins, drugs, and many others. Alternatively, it may be the result of conditions such as androgen insensitivity syndrome or hyperestrogenism. More simply, old age may also be a factor in the development of hypoandrogenism, as androgen levels decline with age.
An interesting thing to note in both definitions is the use of the words “normal” and “natural”. Remember those terms most when reading the rest of this article, as those terms are the most valid and legitimate pieces of firepower in this argument. Now on to some pros and cons for you:
- For reasons which are rather self-explanatory, the school of thought supporting TRT favours all of our oldest and most beloved fighters, allowing athletes who in most cases have paid their dues and are veterans of the sport, to continue competing at their highest level for a few more years.
- This “bonus” time truly allows legacies to be cemented, as well as all combinations of super-fights, pay-per-views and blockbuster-sized events to become a reality, which may not have had the opportunity of happening otherwise.
- The reality? You’re augmenting your body in a completely unnatural way, giving you the ability to do something that you shouldn’t be able to do given the age you’re doing it at. As unfortunate as it is to hear, especially for the fighters participating in the therapy, it’s a fact.
- There is a direct correlation between long-term steroid abuse and a lack of natural testosterone production. With the exception of fighters or any male for that matter suffering from an actual lack of natural testosterone production or hypogonadism, no regular healthy male with a clean medical history, athlete or otherwise, should ever require the treatment under any normal circumstances.
Age is the human body’s natural response to the stress of physical activity and its effect on you as an individual. It’s what your body uses to measure it’s threshold for pain as well as the amount of strain and duress your body can be put through given how long its muscles, joints, bones, nerves and tissues have been taking successive impact over a given amount of time.
Jon Jones recently stated that he’d be completely fine with an older athlete using TRT to even the playing field. While this is admirable, it is completely unnecessary and the wrong approach to the topic.
The fact of the matter is this, if you require augmentation be it physical or chemical in order to compete at the level you once have at earlier stages of your age and career, than either deal with the consequences like an adult and compete with the disadvantage or retire. The situation is no longer seems to be filled with the grey area that it once was, in fact it’s safe to say that it’s never been more black and white.
The keyword of the day here is “Natural”. With the exception of a specific naturally occurring condition known as hypogonadism, no athlete of any kind should ever require or use any chemical or foreign substance on their body that will change the way it performs in a way that is not natural. It would be no different than fighter now being allowed to grab the fence or knee strike to the head of a downed opponent whenever he likes.
The rules of this sport aren’t located solely in the octagon, they are a part of life, because this very sport is an entire lifestyle for all of its athletes.
And for the fighters who do happen to have an unfortunate and naturally occurring case of legitimate hypogonadism, as unfortunate as their situation may be, TRT is a priviledge allowing them the ability to function at a normal level, that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Therefore as Dana White recently stated, they should be rigorously tested on a very consistent basis to be sure that they are never given the opportunity to abuse the therapy and increase their testosterone to abnormal levels, allowing them to benefit from the hormonal spike ultimately providing them with an advantage.
That’s enough out of me, let us know what you think in the comments below.
Give us your opinions and thoughts on the subject and please always remember to keep the message boards heated and fun, but free of prejudice and vulgarities.