Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cung Le Tests Positive for HGH...So What? (WARNING: Rant)

It was recently reported that UFC MMA fighter, Cung Le has tested positive for HGH - a performance enhancing drug (PED) - after his fight with Michael Bisping in Macau.

Upon hearing this news, I was surprised. Not because he was confirmed for being on PEDs, but I was surprised he got caught. It's very unusual for athletes at Le's level and notoriety to actually get caught.

To be perfectly honest, this should come as a surprise to no one. I'm serious: if you still believe that any pro-level athlete in any contact sport (Football, Boxing, MMA, etc...) isn't on PEDs then you are living in a fantasy world.

Take a look at the photo above. Cung Le is 42 years old. Does that look like a "natty" physique to you? It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out he's on some form of PED. But it isn't just Cung Le. If you think Michael Bisping wasn't on gear then you're simply being naive.

In fact, it's kinda funny that Bisping accused Cung Le of "looking" like he was on HGH prior to their fight. Very funny. Funny in a "pot calling the kettle black" kinda way.

Now, of course Le is denying HGH use. Just like Bisping would be denying it if he got caught. Just like every other pro athlete denies PED use.

But, really, why do people care that these athletes are on steroids? It seems very silly to me and, quite frankly, I'm getting pretty fed up with hearing about how awful PEDs are.

Some will claim, while sitting atop their high horse, that preventing athletes from taking PEDs "levels the playing field". Others will say their concern regarding steroid use is directly related their to concern for the safety of the athletes.

Upon closer examination, however, both of these arguments fall flat on their face. Let's take a look at why these two arguments fail support the need to ban PED in professional, full contact athletics.

Leveling the Playing Field - Not Quite...

One of the main arguments used against PEDs in sport is that it isn't fair to use substances that enhance and athlete's level of performance to an "excessive" degree (though there's no real agreement on what counts as excessive).

There's a couple problems with this argument, however. First, and let's be honest here: the cat is out of the bag when it comes to PEDs. Once one guy started to juice everyone else had to as well just to keep up. Why? There's a lot of money involved in the professional sports where PEDs are most prevalent (Football, Baseball, MMA, Boxing, etc...). And where there's a lot of money on the line, people will be willing to cheat. So, by banning PEDs you don't get rid of the problem. You turn the problem into an arms race - Detection of PED Use vs Concealment of PED Use. Sure, you'll catch a few, but at the end of the day you'll miss more than you catch.

By allowing PED use, however, you truly "level the playing field". Everyone knows what's up and everyone can take the steps necessary to ensure they're doing what they need to do to stay competitive in their sport. No bullshit and pretending to be "natty" when it's clear they aren't. You don't have one guy who gets caught and penalized while many, many more coast along doing the same shit. No need for the athletes to worry about piss/blood tests and doing shady crap to ensure they pass those tests. Allowing PEDs ensures TRUE fairness.

Another issue with the "fainess argument" is that there is an assumption that PEDs can increase an athlete's skill level. Hate to break it to you, but they don't. Depending on the type of PED an athlete uses they can expect to sees improved strength/speed/power, enhanced musculature, improved rate of recovery, or improved endurance. These attributes can contribute to performance enhancement, but in and of themselves, PEDs won't improve anyone's skill level in their chosen sport.

How to REALLY Keep an Athlete Safe - 

Now, saying, "We don't want our athletes to take steroids or other performance enhancing drugs because we want them to stay safe and healthy" sounds pretty reasonable at first glance. But the more you think about the issue, the more laughable it becomes.

First off, most of the pro-level athletes who are using PEDs are involved in full-contact sports. Sports that are inherently unsafe - where athletes get hurt all the damn time. These guys are involved in rough sports, in which they put their own physical well-being at risk, for our entertainment (that's were the money is coming from).

We'll watch them beat the shit out of each other while we have a beer at a sports bar - but they shouldn't do roids because it isn't safe. President's of promotion companies and league owners make lots of money off of these guys beating the shit out of each other - but they shouldn't do roids because it isn't safe.

It's an asinine assertion.

If you're really concerned about the safety of the athletes you'd want PEDs legalized. As I mentioned above, PEDs are here to stay. As long as money is involved people will be willing to cheat to get ahead and the cheaters will force everyone else to cheat in order to stay ahead and ensure they keep their income stable. And since these guys are going to use PEDs anyway, might as well take steps towards ensure that the use of these drugs is done under the care and monitoring of qualified professional - instead of some meathead with "the hook-up" the athlete happens to know.

Banning PEDs makes their use something shady. When an athlete has to deal with criminals (for lack of a better term) to ensure they can keep up, then that's were the real danger to their safety is. Responsible use of PEDs under the supervision of a medical professional is, by far, the best way to ensure an athlete's safety.

Conclusion - 

I think its is about damn time we start to really think about the realities of PED use in sports.

We need to realize some of our assumptions and assertions have been incorrect. We should accept that PEDs aren't "hurting" any particular sport. The truth is, the bans on PEDs are hurting the athletes involved in those sports. Officially acknowledging and allowing the use of PEDs in professional full-contact sports is the only viable option if fairness and safety are our real concern.


  1. I am 55 years old. I have a better physique without needing any PEDS, ever. All the benefits I have gained, have been the clear and pure result of traditional martial arts exercises and training in Neigong / Zhan Zhuang. PEDS are the way that a cheater and loser try to make themselves out to be what they are not: a TRUE contender. Not to mention the terrible side effects; impotence, sterility, acne and cancers or all sorts. PEDS are to legitimate competitions what GMOS are to REAL foods: F A K E and POISONOUS.