New York Yankees third baseman and all-around bad guy Alex Rodriguez doesn’t have too many friends these days. He has thrown teammates under the bus, swindled two ballclubs out of over $100 million in bad contracts, and lied to a nationwide audience about his steroid use. Needless to say, Dana White coming out in support of “A-Rod” is a surprise and leaves him open to questions about how he would handle PED use in the UFC.
“I’m a friend of A-Rod’s,” White told Fox Sports. “I was diagnosed a couple years ago with Meniere’s disease, which is damage to the nerve, and A-Rod called me and said, ‘I went to this place in Dusseldorf, Germany. Kobe Bryant sent me there.’ You know, you look at the list of athletes and people, Pope John Paul went there. And you have to be referred to this place to get in. He referred me to get in and completely changed my life. So for all the negative things that are on A-Rod right now, the guy has done some good things too. I like him and have a lot of respect for him.”
Major League Baseball has initiated a witch hunt for past and present PED users and Rodriguez is right in the middle. With other major sports beginning to take notice, it is only a matter of time before the scandal affects MMA promotions.
White says that he can overlook ‘all the negative things that are on A-Rod right now,’ but one has to wonder if he would show the same respect for one of his big name fighter. Probably not.
In April 2012, Alistair Overeem was set to face Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 until it was discovered that he had failed his pre-fight drug test. He was subsequently suspended and, in White’s opinion, guilty of poor judgment. “He said he was taking anti-inflammatory shots.” White said as reported by MMAFighting. “Well, you should have gone in and told the commission that before you got drug tested. You don’t say it after you get busted for elevated testosterone levels. Period. Pretty simple. The rules are cut and clear.”
Other notable fighters to be disciplined for PED use include: Vitor Belfort, Stephen Bonner, Chael Sonnen, and Sean Sherk. Each name has graced a UFC fight card following their suspension.
So where does this leave UFC fighters looking to get an extra push? When a fighter is suspended, it comes solely from a decision made by a state’s athletic commission. The UFC may strip a fighter of their belt or dock their paycheck, but they could be in the octagon soon after time is served.
Major League Baseball’s steroid policy has a three tier system that ends with a player banned for life. A-Rod is one of dozens of players currently facings suspension, along with many more that have not been named. It would be interesting to see how MMA organizations would react to a similar system.
To this point, the UFC has not had an “A-Rod” level fighter test positive for a banned substance. No GSP’s, or Silva’s, or Couture’s have ever been linked to anything illegal, but if one were to come out I doubt White would shower him with respect.