I'm seeing testosterone replacement therapy (a.k.a. TRT) mentioned a lot in MMA articles. In particular, Vitor Belfort seems to be getting a lot of heat for taking it. I'm getting the feeling that people are questioning the legitimacy of his wins over Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold over it. So I thought it over and came to the following conclusion: an MMA fighter should be granted an exemption for TRT provided that it restores his testosterone to his body's NORMAL LEVELS.
If a fighter abuses the treatment by "spiking" it during training and stopping just in time to pass the drug test, then they should not get an exemption. We should not punish the other guys who use it correctly because there are cheaters who are trying to get an unfair advantage. That would be like banning all injured athletes from getting pain killers because some addicts use them to get high. Nor do I feel that we should ban athletes who have used steroids in the past from getting TRT exemptions IF:
1) They have fulfilled the terms of their suspension
2) They have proven that they haven't abused them since by testing clean in their subsequent fights
3) A reputable doctor says that they need it for their overall health in general (i.e. not just to compete)
To refuse an MMA fighter a TRT exemption under those three circumstances is like telling a track athlete that they can't use an inhaler because they abused their lungs through smoking in the past. If they've learned their lesson, then they should get a second chance. If they repeatedly abuse the system, then they shouldn't. In fact, my personal opinion is that any fighter who fails three banned substances' tests (including weed) should be permanently barred from the sport.
The fact of the matter is that professional fighting is highly competitive. Your career doesn't last very long, the toughest people in the world want to rip your head off, and you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting a title shot, much less dethroning the reigning champion. For that reason, there are a lot of guys who will abuse anything that they can get their hands on in order to get an extra edge, including TRT. That's why its use should be heavily regulated. However, there are guys who are willing to play by the rules and fight fair. Their bodies have simply developed a detrimental health condition or are suffering from the lingering effects of mistakes that they stopped making years ago. These guys should be granted a TRT exemption and treated like legitimate fighters, for ultimately, they have chosen to play by the rules.