Belfort and Henderson: Conventient testosterone treatment

The TRT controversy is the gift that keeps on giving.

Both Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort, who fight each other this weekend in Brazil, are known TRT users. Henderson is in his 40’s while Beflfort is 36 – the age bracket when most athletes begin to naturally regress.

In the case of Belfort – a fighter who has failed drug tests – he has not fought on US soil in two years. Coincidentally, most athletic commissions won’t grant him exemptions for his TRT therapy because of those failed tests. Henderson, on the other hand, has never failed a previous test. He is granted exemptions because he requires the therapy for health reasons.

Yet both fighters have made comments in recent days that undermine their reasons for using TRT.

Belfort said he would give up the treatment if it meant a title shot. As if his TRT use were a negotiating tool like any other. Those comments are made by a man who has also claimed he will need the therapy for the rest of his life. Belfort has long taken a hard and sometimes abrasive stance on his use of the therapy, but now claims it’s not necessary?

The same message can be construed by Henderson’s recent comments. As reported by, Henderson essentially says the TRT use hardly has an effect.

“It wouldn’t matter that much to me whether I was on it or not, especially just for one fight. It’s a matter of being healthier, just as a lifestyle for me, and what the doctors prescribe to be healthier as a person. So it’s not anything that a few months is going to matter.”

If that is the case, why take it at all? Why not wait until your career is over? Why not find alternative solutions that don’t manipulate a substance that has long been taboo?

Tim Kennedy, a fellow middleweight, had his take on Belfort, specifically, but his comments can be implied over the universal issue of TRT:

“It’s embarrassing to be part of the sport and have athletes that are manipulating the system like that. It’s mixed martial arts, and it’s supposed to be about integrity and character and all the things that go with being a martial artist. This is obviously a spit in the face of every martial artist out there.”

The facts are that fighters can apply for and be granted these exemptions. It’s a positive that they withhold these exemptions from fighters with checkered history. Yet regardless of how or why, TRT is a treatment that is sanctioned by a governing body in the sport. While it may seem unfair in the eyes of other figures and fans, it isn’t in the laws of the sport.

For those who disapprove, that is the embarrassing part.


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