As soon as I heard the rumours that Nate Marquardt's indefinite suspension by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission and immediate UFC firing was due to concerns with his testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), I passed on the news to Zach Arnold (who has been doing an excellent job since then of transcribing interviews and collating reaction related to this story on his site FightOpinion.com) via facebook and joked that maybe Chael Sonnen's "hypogonadism" was contagious. Which is of course perfectly preposterous, you can't catch testosterone deficiency by fighting someone with that alleged condition. But as they say there's a grain of truth in every good joke.
In this case maybe more than just a grain of truth, as Dave Meltzer (whose free Yahoo! Sports article is the best starting point for understanding the issues with TRT that Marquardt's suspension raises) explained on his June 30th subscribers only Wrestling Observer radio show. Meltzer speculated that if Marquardt had somehow caught wind of Chael Sonnen's TRT (or just took an educated guess at how a journeyman fighter turned his career around to the point that he dominated Anderson Silva for over four rounds at UFC 117), then that may have prompted his decision to get on testosterone too in August 2010, the same month as Sonnen should have won the UFC Middleweight Championship. After all, Marquardt used to own and outwrestle Sonnen in practice, so he must have been shocked that he was no match for an unbeknownst to him testosterone fuelled Sonnen at UFC 109 and even more shocked when Sonnen took Silva to the limit, someone Marquardt himself had no luck with at UFC 73. If you can't beat him, join him, eh Nate?
Because despite what Marquardt and his manager Lex McMahon told Ariel Helwani, the most likely explanation for what transpired is that he mistimed his illegal super dosed testosterone cycle and panicked when his testosterone levels didn't fall in the required margins in the time he expected and needed to be able to fight. That's why he was in the best shape of his career, just like Chael Sonnen was at UFC 117!
I'm glad that Marquardt messed up, because it will finally cause the athletic commissions (apart from Nevada as Keith Kizer has been ahead of the curve regarding this issue) to wake up, smell the coffee and realise something that WWE doctors found out many years ago. As Dr. Tracy Ray told investigators for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a phone interview on Monday September 24th 2007:
It's not perfect. There's still shadiness in almost every [therapeutic use exemption] case that I've reviewed. But we're trying to do, I'm trying to do what I think is best for these individuals. And to a certain degree I have to trust that these physicians that I'm talking to are doing the same.
WWE for quite some time have not given out any new TUEs for testosterone because they know how easy it is for the system to be abused by their performers and that the most likely cause of genuine testosterone deficiency is past steroid abuse. It's time for the athletic commissions and most importantly Marc Ratner, UFC's Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, who is in charge of regulating UFC events in overseas countries without a commission, to follow in the footsteps that were forced upon WWE in the aftermath of the Chris Benoit double murder suicide scandal and banish the obvious TUE inconsistencies and loopholes that still exist in MMA at the moment.