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Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Nevada to mull TRT exemption rules

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

The Nevada State Athletic Commission intends to discuss its current policy on therapeutic-use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy later this month.

The discussion will take place during a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 27 in Las Vegas, according to NSAC Chairman Francisco Aguilar.

The commission is anticipating what will be a high-profile exemption application for testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, from UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort, who is scheduled to fight Chris Weidman for the UFC title on May 24 in Las Vegas.

Belfort (24-10) has been approved for the use of TRT in Brazil, the site of his most recent three fights. His application for an exemption in Nevada will be unique, due to a positive steroids test he submitted following a fight in Las Vegas in 2006.

In statements made to ESPN.com on Tuesday, Aguilar said the commission felt it best to update its stance on TRT exemptions now, before Belfort applies.

"It's the commission's need and desire to get clarity on the issue before we go into a situation where we have to make a decision immediately," Aguilar said.

"It's not fair to have that discussion while someone is in front of you. It's important to have a basis of where you find yourself as a commissioner prior to that -- having all the information you need from the experts," Aguilar said.

When asked if it was possible the commission could vote on eliminating future exemptions for TRT in Nevada altogether on Feb. 27, Aguilar said yes.

"A commissioner can always make a motion towards that idea," Aguilar said. "I'm not sure if that will happen, but it's always a possibility."

In addition to giving NSAC board members a chance to deliberate on the issue prior to addressing Belfort's application, the public meeting will serve to educate them more thoroughly on TRT, particularly from a medical standpoint.

"My initial questions are broad, obviously concerning the purpose of TRT and TUEs," Aguilar said. "Once we understand the purpose and the intent, we can drill deeper into the follow-up questions, such as when you can determine they are necessary.

"It's always important to have a medical perspective."

Approved use of TRT remains a lightning rod issue in combat sports.

Last month, the Association of Ringside Physicians released a statement supporting the "general elimination" of use exemptions for TRT. UFC president Dana White has publicly supported the ARP's stance.

During a recent interview with ESPN.com, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said the promotion would continue to defer to the judgment of athletic commissions in regards to TRT use.

"We've always deferred to state athletic commissions to run these events and make those determinations," Fertitta said.

"It's interesting because anybody who says we advocate [TRT use] is out of their minds. It creates terrible circumstances for our business," Fertitta added. "A guy who tests high and is unavailable for a year, how does that benefit us? If there is anything that can be done to stamp out people abusing this process, we want to help."