Article by Dave Walsh
A good portion of my formative years were spent listening to music, reading novels and watching movies by artists who normally used and abused drugs, so much so that it barely has any negative bearings in my mind. I remember, fondly, throughout high school sitting in a dark room and listening to “Third Eye” by Tool, starting off with a rant by Bill Hicks that talks about drug use. Even if I never got too into the drug scene or went too far into the rabbit hole that was alcohol, it is still something that I understand on an intimate level and accept. Many tend to agree with that.
When it comes to sports, though, drugs and performance enhancers take on a whole new meaning. All of a sudden it is not about expression and creativity, but it is about an advantage, it is about cheating nature. I’m not sure that using it in artistic endeavours is much different, but few people outside of the drug user walks away with much in the way of physical damage. When it comes to sports we look at “safety” and pretty much view only physical safety of the competitors. If someone is taking something that we call a performance enhancing drug, it could help them to physically harm their opponent, as well as gain an unfair advantage.
The more that I think about it, the more that I understand that some of my favorite fighters in history have been “rrrrrrreally fucking high on drugs” in their careers outside of the United States and that it really does nothing to taint them. Even if we all have this consensus understanding that there was no drug testing in PRIDE or K-1 back in the day and that anything was fair game, which meant that some of those classic fights were indeed “tainted” by PEDs, they are still classics that helped to solidify our fandom and love for fighting. They are still some of the best fights and fighters ever.
So Vitor Belfort scores a win over Luke Rockhold in Brazil using a spinning back kick to the face (which I will always call the Leko Buster) and a lot of talk is going around about Vitor and his history with TRT. I’ve actually always been opposed to TRT and its use in MMA, but the more that I think about how drugs have influenced some of the great works in history that have influenced me so heavily, it is difficult to look at a guy like Vitor Belfort who is adding years onto his career through the use of testosterone treatment and outright scold him.
Most writers, musicians and filmmakers aren’t physically harming their peers through their use of drugs — which in some cases can indeed “enhance” their performance in creating works of art — but they are “cheating” to get a leg up, which can damage their peers financially as well as mentally. If life is simply a macrocosm, expanding of the schoolyard world that we grew up in where we competed to be popular, cool or to get girls to notice us, how can we point fingers at Vitor Belfort for doing everything in his power to cement his legacy?
I might never find myself as a real fan of TRT or for fighters to use it, but I find myself criticizing it less and less because sometimes to make entertaining fights you have to do something that is wrong, just like artists need something to stimulate themselves to create something that you know and love. If this is how Vitor needs to squeegee off his third eye to fight, so be it.