Performance-enhancing drugs are almost as common place in sports as the rules they break. Athletes will always seek a way to obtain a competitive edge over the opponent, it’s the nature of competition. We’ve all come to a point where we can accept that there’s a good chance our favorite athletes are on something that’s banned, but where we draw the line, it seems, is in the athlete’s explanation for failing a drug test.

We’ve seen a bit of a rise in failed drug tests in recent months for the UFC in particular with almost as many excuses. Every time a fighter fails a drug test, it’s not the test failure that we talk about but rather the explanation given.

Take, for example, the recent failure of Riki Fukuda. The Japanese fighter claimed an over-the-counter cold medication was the culprit, and that he forgot to mention it in the lead up to his fight. Fukuda tested positive for a number of banned stimulants (phenylpropanolamine, norpseudoephedrine and ephedrine). Whether or not the cold medication is the true culprit is up for debate, but what’s clear is Fukuda’s reasoning won’t do him any favors with MMA fans.

Just take a look at how athletes in other major sports have been portrayed for PEDs. Guys like Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds are continually ripped by media and fans, whereas a guy like Andy Pettitte has mostly flown under the radar. Why? Because Pettitte came out and openly admitted to takings PEDs. Pettitte claimed it was to help heal an injury, but even if he was attempting to cheat, the former star pitcher resolved the issue on his own terms by his quick and honest admission. By coming clean and admitting his fault, Pettitte was able to take the focus off himself and not keep the debate going.

Fighters should ditch the “Rafael Palmeiro finger wave of defiance” and just come clean when failing drug tests. The suspensions, fines and likely roster cut from major MMA promotions are going to happen regardless. These athletes might as well stop the storm of controversy from gathering by coming out with honesty. After all, we’ve seen before that sports fans can be forgiving of prior faults.

Creating a bed of lies only sets up a fighter for a deeper fall when they fail a drug test. By setting the record straight (with the truth), the fighters can control the narrative of the story and thus control how the media and fans perceive them. As fans, we’ve become immune to hearing that our favorite athletes are taking illegal supplements, but when we’re told an excuse that a five-year-old uses (“I didn’t know”), fighters should know that we’re not stupid either.

Photo: Riki Fukuda (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.