So I wrote a paper my final semester of college on steroid usage in MMA. I tried to be impartial and keep my opinions to myself on what I thought about Steroids. That being said it was a sports psychology paper, so enjoy!
Use of Steroids in professional sports has become more and more prevalent. With the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as a new professional ‘must see’ sport, the governing bodies have started to crack down on the abuse of all forms of steroids. Steroid use has repeatedly been found in MMA fighters and the psychological effects have had more negative effects than positive effects on the performances of MMA fighters. So why do MMA athletes use steroids? And what are the drawbacks psychologically, from using the steroids?
Use of anabolic steroids has for some time been widespread among competitive sportsmen and women, who selfadminister[sic] doses of up to 100 times the recommended therapeutic dose, and use combinations of multiple oral and injectable [sic] preparations.”(Williamson)
Baseball players, football players, and professional wrestlers have all admitted to, or have been caught using steroids. They claim the steroids enhance their athletic performance. The psychological side affects range from
reports of violent, criminal behavior in individuals taking AS(anabolic steroids). Other side effects … are euphoria, confusion, sleeping disorders, pathological anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. (Kuipers)
One thing that seems to also be a problem is when the athletes try to stop using steroids, the psychological withdrawl symptoms can be very severe includidng “aggressive and violent behavior, mental depression with suicidal behavior, mood changes, and in some cases acute psychosis.” (Kuipers) In July of 2007 pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, child, and himself during a ‘roid rage’ episode. The psychological affects can greatly harm not only the athletes, but even the people around them.
In the past eight years, the three major commissions, Nevada State Athletic Commission, California State Athletic Commission, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have had Thirty one fighters test positive for some form of steroids.
Two fighters, Jeff Monson, and Kevin Randlemann both admitted to using steroids or trying to alter their urine tests to not get caught.”(potato)
In 2007 there were fourteen major professional fighters that had failed to pass their steroid tests. In an article posted on Cagepotato.com an interesting trend was seen “Of the aforementioned fighters who were accused of steroid use after fights, 11 were successful in those fights, while 18 were unsuccessful.” (potato) Two of the fighters in this article were repeat offenders. Josh Barnett and Kimo Leopoldo were tested before their fights and failed; they were not allowed to fight.
The two most common psychological side effects are,
‘roid rage,’ a manic rage where the user displays episodes of outright aggression and/or violent feelings and actions”(CESAR) and “ users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility(CESAR)
Both of these side effects can have very negative effects on MMA fighters during their fights. If the fighter does start having any of the psychological effects of steroids they make the fighter lose focus, which can be very bad. They make mistakes leave openings, and end up being more vulnerable. Another problem that happens, is when the fighters start to cycle off of the steroids, they do not have as effective of practices and training. If an athlete has multiple practices where they perform to a lower standard, or can feel themselves getting ‘weaker’ it can start to negatively affect athletes psychological stability. Not only are the effects a negative, but the Sports commissions have made it very costly to break the rules.
Is it worth it to break the rules for a better physique, and better practices? Many of the athletes claim they had only used what doctors had prescribed to help them get over surgeries, or overcoming major injuries. One of these injured athletes, Dennis Hallmann, said after testing positive for steroids
I honestly think that taking steroids is counter-productive for MMA, they do not improve how you punch or how good you are at subs. They actually hurt your cardio which is the biggest factor in MMA. (potato)
Many others were not even aware they had used an illegal substance, at least four of the MMA fighters mentioned in the cage potato article claimed they had picked up supplements from national stores like GNC and Max Muscle. Not one of them had realized some of their supplements would make them test positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. In the case of Ken Shamrock his brother commented that “Why do you think he crumbles before the big fights? He's got no psyche. He let steroids give him a false sense of security and the moment that stuff is gone he's no longer superman.” (potato) Losing that edge it starts to make the fighters doubt, and if they do not go in confident, they lose the fight before they can even start. And the governing sports commissions usually fine the athletes, then suspend the fighters anywhere from a few months to indefinite bans.
Athletes in all sports have been coming under harsher and harsher punishments for steroid. With more MMA fighters losing in cases where they have been found to have steroids in their system, it is getting harder and harder to justify using them. They psychological drawbacks to using the steroids do not end up giving the fighters the edge they had hoped for and in the long run end up hurting them even more in the long run.