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Thursday, 08/22/2013, 10:16 pm

Belfort vs Henderson on Shaky Ground After WADA Lab Suspension

On November 9th, Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson are set to collide once again. After meeting almost seven years ago at “PRIDE 32″, when the American recorded a decision victory over the Brazilian, the longtime veterans have agreed to headline  the UFC Fight Night 32, in the city of Goiania, Brazil, in a light heavyweight bout. And even though the date, place and weight appear to be already set in stone, there’s still much to be determined on how the UFC will handle one of its most controversial themes: the use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy.

The selection of Goiania wasn’t merely a business decision to open up a new market in the midwest region of Brazil. Since both Henderson and Belfort are notorious users of TRT, a possible designation of a venue inside the United States wouldn’t come without a struggle. The American commissions have become much more strict with the granting of TRT exemptions in recent times, especially if you go by the name of Vitor Belfort. The 36-year-old Brazilian is not viewed favorably by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), arguably the most important of all of them as the regulator of Las Vegas, and its executive director Keith Kizer.

“I don’t see Vitor Belfort getting a TRT exemption from us,” Kizer told Bleacher Report.  “I really don’t and I feel kind of bad for him in some ways because if he has learned from his mistakes and now he’s trying to do it the right way and his levels are low with the treatment good for him and I hope he is doing that.”

By mistake, Kizer basically refers to October 21st of 2006, a day that not only marks Belfort’s loss to Henderson, but also when the Brazilian tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone due to illegal substance abuse, which led to a $10,000 fine and a nine-month suspension by the NSAC, since the fight took place at Las Vegas. This understanding of the commission is prompting the UFC to favor Belfort’s upcoming bouts on his home soil, regulated by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA), where a TRT exemption is less difficult to get.

As stated by the CABMMA’s medical director, Dr. Marcio Tannure to MMA Fighting.com, “with Vitor, we did blood tests every month to guarantee his levels are ok, and then we tested him before and after the fights (with Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold)”. That would also apply to Henderson, if the soon-to-be 43-year-old decides to return to TRT, as rumors indicate, after not using it for his last bout against Rashad Evans at UFC 161 in Canada. “If (Henderson) wants to use the TRT exemption in Brazil, “added Dr. Tannure, “he will need to send us all the exams so we can analyze it. I know he has the authorization to use that in the US, but this is a different commission, so we need to see all the exams.”

Therefore, all the signs point to both Belfort and Henderson applying for a TRT exemption for their upcoming fight in Brazil, but the problem is who’s going to be testing them. The South American country has recently lost its only WADA accredited testing facility, which has the legitimacy to perform anti-doping tests. Earlier in the month, the agency suspended the credential of the “Ladetec” laboratory, prohibiting  it of executing any kind of WADA-related doping analysis, due to lack of meeting  the required international standards for such activities.

Ladetec’s situation has not been solved since its suspension on August 8th. The laboratory’s future will only be decided on September 11th, after a meeting by the WADA executive board. If the suspension is revoked, the TRT usage by the UFC Fight Night 32 headliners would be in a much clearer condition. If not, Ladetec’s credential could be terminated permanently, and the second meeting between Henderson and Belfort on November 9th wouldn’t happen without a major effort by the UFC to sort things out in time.

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