For Overeem, positive test could be the end

April, 5, 2012
4/05/12
12:53
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Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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Alistair OvereemJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesThe battle to repair his image might be Alistair Overeem's toughest opponent yet.
As of Thursday morning, fans, regulatory officials and MMA media were still waiting to hear from Alistair Overeem.

A lot of people seem eager to know what the hulking Dutch striker has to say for himself after a recent round of surprise drug tests reportedly caught him with a T/E ratio befitting an in-his-prime Ultimate Warrior.

Not me, though. To tell you the truth, I’m over this nonsense.

Somewhere between Cris Santos asking us to believe that an anonymous teammate secretly slipped her steroids and Quinton Jackson shouting to the world about how good he feels now that he’s on testosterone replacement therapy, I realized I just don’t care to hear the excuses anymore.

I suppose we have to allow for the slim possibility that “The Reem” has some heretofore unused and thoroughly compelling reason for why his urine is essentially pure testosterone, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Unless the Nevada State Athletic Commission suddenly completely retracts the report of his positive test, I’m afraid the giant, freakishly muscular cat is out of the bag for Overeem, and it’s probably never going back in.

For the man whose latest alias -- “Ubereem” -- now seems fairly unseemly, a positive steroid test is perhaps more damaging than for any other fighter in MMA. When you make the transition from so-so, waif-thin light heavyweight fewer than 10 years ago to enormous heavyweight juggernaut with the body of Greek god and an 11 fight win streak, that’s just the price you pay.

Over the years, we’ve seen certain guys rehabilitate their images after drug testing irregularities: Chris Leben did it; Nate Marquardt is in the process of doing it; maybe Thiago Silva has a chance. Unfortunately, that option might not exist for Overeem.

Certainly, unless something substantial changes about this story soon, the UFC can’t put him back in the cage. Not ever. Not after this turn of events appears to confirm years of suspicion.

At this point, the fight company might be best served to just release Overeem outright, replace him with Frank Mir in his upcoming title fight against Junior dos Santos and let us all go on with our lives.

This is the right move because the implications of Overeem’s positive test go far beyond this one incident. This single violation actually casts significant doubt on the entire last half decade of his career. It also raises important questions about fighter safety when a guy that big, that strong and that dangerous is found to be enhanced.

Can you imagine the field day the mainstream media would have if an MMA fighter was injured or (God forbid) killed in a high-profile bout and his opponent was determined to be on steroids? That’s a chance the UFC absolutely cannot take and that’s just one reason why it can’t let Overeem fight again.

In addition, this positive test sheds unflattering light on the two and a half years he spent padding his record overseas after beating Paul Buentello for the Strikeforce heavyweight title in 2007. It makes the “misunderstanding” regarding drug testing for his UFC debut in December look awfully shady. It even raises questions about the legitimacy of his win over Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, when he fought in Nevada under a “conditional license” pending further testing.

After years of rumor and innuendo, after a bunch of tough talk about how “they can test me all they want ... I will prove everyone wrong,” failing a drug test is pretty much Overeem’s Waterloo.

It’s pretty much DefCon One.

It’s the thing that can’t be undone.

How can Overeem possibly explain all of it away? What could he say that we haven’t already heard? What can he do now to legitimize his massive weight gain, to undermine the countless cracks about horse meat we’ll no doubt read in the coming days and to undo public perception that he cheated his way to the No. 2 heavyweight ranking in the world?

My guess: Nothing, and perhaps he should save himself the indignity of even trying.

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