Friday, June 15, 2007

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

The following is a story taken from a report dated Friday, 6/15/07:

Royce Gracie, the man who single-handedly popularized Brazilian jiu-jitsu worldwide with his astounding victories over competitors during the heyday of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, following a win over Kazushi Sakuraba on June 2nd in Los Angeles.

In the world of sports, doping - the taking of illegal drugs to enhance athletic ability - is nothing new. Anabolic steroids in particular steal the headlines. Steroids, which are processed derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, seem to do everything an athlete could want:

  • Dramatic increases in size and strength
  • Offsets fatigue
  • Increases aggression
  • Reduces inflammation

With the possible exceptions of:

  • Liver abnormalities
  • Increased LDL "bad" cholesterol
  • Propensity to fits of rage
  • Depression

Besides the ever-popular steroids, some athletes have been known to use/abuse other agents, such as artificial human growth-hormone (hGH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and a variety of potent stimulants.

Strict measures have been taken through the years to counteract the widespread usage of sports-enhancement pharmacopoeia. In January 2007, the World Anti-Doping Agency updated its Prohibited List of hormones and related drugs for sanctioned sports, including martial-art events. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified anabolic steroids as a drug in the Schedule III category, which also includes codeine and certain barbiturates.

The opening story is in no way intended to discredit Royce Gracie, the Gracie family, or the noble art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu or its legion of practitioners.

There are no shortcuts on the martial path. Taking these compounds eventually become a crutch and weaken the spirit. The way is in the training, not to be found from a magic pill or a hypodermic needle.

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Blogger Mir said...

That is SO sad. I saw clips from that fight on Youtube, it was astonishing to watch such talent. Now, his skill has been overshadowed by the negative connotations of steriods. Questions pop into my head as to whether he could have reached the heights of competition that he had reached without the drugs.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This is what happens when the pressure to win supercedes all other concerns. Royce Gracie is a legend who is, unfortunately, in the twilight of his competitive career. He was fighting a man whose nickname is "The Gracie Killer" and to whom Royce has already lost once.

I was pretty sad to hear about this, but not surprised. As MMA grows in popularity and the purses grow in kind, there are more reasons to win than just pride. Money enters the picture. Unfortunately, as we've seen time and again with elite athletes, if given the choice between cheating and winning or not cheating and losing, most will choose to cheat and win. It can mean the difference between a lucrative career and obscurity.

We've seen this in Judo and boxing, and in just about every non-combative sport, as well. Baseball is probably the best recent example.

I think it's good that they're testing, and hopefully the trend will continue in the vein of genuinely attempting to catch cheaters, regardless of their last name.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brings me back to the Tour de France, when Floyd Landis' win was tainted by the doping scandal. I just couldn't believe he did it. I'm tempted to blame the managers and promoters who apply undue amounts of pressure on the athletes to win at all costs. I'd like to see the strength of principles bulked up as much as the strength of the body.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's very sad indeed. I had a lot of respect for Gracie and still do. That's the part I don't like about MMA: It doesn't bother with philosophy or tradition.

It turns the martial arts into a blood fest. Yet I still watch it on occasion.

Has this ever happened in sport karate or sport taekwondo? I'm curious...


5:35 PM  
Blogger Rick Matz said...

Performance enhancing drugs are the antithesis of what sports is about. Nutrition is one thing, this is quite another. The martial arts community should collectively turn their proverbial back on him.

9:49 PM  
Blogger BWTKD said...

Has this ever happened in sport karate or sport taekwondo? I'm curious..

any sport with a USOC (US Olympic Committee) sanction must adhere to the anti - doping and prohibited substance guidelines. (this would include USA Taekwondo and USA Karate)

a common problem in TKD is Diuretic abuse used to lose water weight in order to make a certain weight category.

Also, some athletes use over the counter medicine that contains prohibited substances and they do not realize it, if caught however, ignorance is not a defense.

the guidelines are strict, even including limits on the amount of caffeine allowed in the athletes system. (for example)


9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like everyone else, I think that this is just so sad. I'm inclined to hope that it is not true - in cycling, there have been unfounded allegations of drug-taking. Perhaps this is the same. Although this kind of thing is never good for any sport, it seems to me that more than any other discipline, taking performance-enhancing drugs is completely contrary to the spirit of Martial Arts.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

A shame. I completely agree with Bob's comments. As I've stated repeatedly, MMA is a sport. Nothing more. It contains the components of the deadly martial arts, but none of the self-control. As well stated by others in this thread, the temptation to cheat to win in sport can be overpowering. Sad.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

I think it's sad that someone would have to win at all costs. It wouldn't seem like a victory to me on the inside if I knew I was a cheater.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

While I guess it's to be expected, Royce vehemently denies taking anything and will appeal.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

When ego takes control, when the desire to win takes control, when one is caught in that net of fame, when one lets the reputation dictate the path you take.

Lost from the path!

6:40 PM  

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