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The UFC's strange week with drugs

9:32 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
Vitor Belfort, top, shown fighting Yoshihiro Akiyama during UFC 133, has an exemption in his native Brazil for synthetic testosterone. (Photo: Suchat Pederson, Wilmington News-Journal)
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JARAGUA Do Sul, Brazil (USA TODAY) -- On Tuesday, UFC officials announced lightweight Pat Healy would lose $130,000 in fight-night bonus money after testing positive for marijuana metabolites. On Saturday night, Vitor Belfort enters the cage with full clearance despite synthetic testosterone, an anabolic steroid, in his body.

Are those facts a product of flawed performance-enhancing drug-testing procedures in mixed martial arts?

"Some people argue that (testosterone-replacement therapy) is legal, but I disagree," UFC middleweight Chris Camozzi told USA TODAY Sports. "I don't know that it necessarily should be legal. If you're an athlete and it's your time to hang 'em up, hang 'em up."

Belfort (22-10, 11-6) meets former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold (10-1, 0-0) in the main event of Saturday night's UFC on FX 8 event at Jaragua Arena here. The main card, including a Camozzi (19-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (17-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) co-headliner, airs on FX (9 p.m. ET)

Belfort, 36, is enjoying one of the best runs of his career, but is doing so with the use of TRT, a controversial treatment that governing athletic commissions can approve if a fighter is granted a therapeutic-use exemption. Belfort has followed all the necessary steps to gain such clearance from the Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA, Brazil's regulatory body.

Belfort declines to specifically discuss his treatment, preferring to focus on his adherence to policy.

"TRT doesn't win fights," Belfort said. "It's hard work. People that know me know how hard I work in the gym. I'm just following the rules."

Healy hasn't spoken publicly about his punishment, which came after a career-defining UFC 159 win in April that has since been overturned to a no-contest. However, Healy issued a statement admitting to using marijuana and took full responsibility for what he deemed "poor life choices."

Rockhold, an outspoken opponent of TRT use in MMA, said he was shocked by Healy's decision to use marijuana prior to a fight, even if he doesn't personally view it as any sort of performance-enhancing drug.

"I come from Santa Cruz, and there's obviously a lot of that going on there," the California resident said. "I'm no stranger to it, but I just can't believe people would risk it. I don't believe people should be penalized as strictly as steroids are, of course, but it's just stupid. I believe it doesn't help you in any way to fight, but for now it's illegal."

Earlier this year, UFC officials asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission to consider a softer stance on its enforcement of sanctions against positive marijuana tests. The commission has yet to address the topic, and until it does, Camozzi, a resident of Colorado, which recently legalized recreational marijuana use, believes fighters need to understand that moral arguments hold no weight.

"The commission lets us know it's illegal," Camozzi said. "You can't do it no matter what he thinks or she thinks. Your opinion is your opinion, but the law is the law."

Morgan also writes for MMAJunkie.com

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