Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn believes that while USADA has definitely helped clean up the sport of mixed martial arts, there is still a ton of room for improvement.
Speaking with BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor, “The Prodigy” revealed that he believes many fighters have jumped off of testosterone in favor of Human Growth Hormone.
“I think that USADA made the cheaters jump from taking Testosterone to Human Growth Hormone. You know, exactly how Lance Armstrong cheated for all of those years… That is what is happening now.”
Cyclist Lance Armstrong was infamously stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs which included EPO, HGH and other banned substances.
In October of 2012 USADA formally charged Lance Armstrong of running a massive doping ring which they labelled “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sports had ever seen.”
According to Penn, the symptoms of HGH, which include having a bloated stomach, are quite visible in the sport of mixed martial arts today.
“USADA told me that they have a test to catch HGH users but I haven’t seen anyone getting busted and everyone’s stomachs are getting bigger. I see it all the time. Fighters shoulders are getting smaller and their stomachs are getting bigger because they are jumping off testosterone and taking HGH.”
Taylor brought up the fact that USADA claims to have a test that would could prove fighters have taken HGH within the past two weeks. Still, Penn questions the lack of results stemming from the test.
“Yea, (Jeff) Novitzky told me they have a test for Human Growth Hormone that lasts for two weeks. But then why is no one ever getting busted and their stomachs are growing?”
“It’s kind of like IV’s. I have never seen one fighter get busted for taking an IV twenty-four hours out of their fight. The only fighter who ever got busted for an IV was me, this after I disclosed that I had taken a glutathione IV following a visit with a concussion and brain injury specialist. They (USADA) tried to show that they had teeth by reprimanding a fighter who always speaks out about PED’s. Since that day, I have never seen anyone else get ‘caught’ for taking an IV. From my understanding, the only test that USADA uses for IV’s is looking for puncture holes on a fighter. Maybe they don’t realize that a massive weight gain after a weigh in is performance enhancing. When in reality, IV’s can be a huge advantage in the fight game. We aren’t talking about 150-pound men riding a bike.”
Penn brought up a previous fight where his opponent had put on 26-pounds in just twenty-four hours following the official event weigh-ins. “The Prodigy” recalled a conversation with Jeff Novitzky, the Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance for UFC, about his opponents rather substantial overnight weight gain.
“My coach had seen my opponent weigh-in just hours before the fight and he had put on 26-pounds. I had eaten everything I could in those twenty-four hours and yet I only managed to put on 8-pounds myself. I told Novitzky about the situation after the fight suggesting that maybe my opponent had taken an IV. Jeff told me that they could not find any puncture holes on his arm and added that maybe my opponent just rehydrated better.”
In the end, BJ Penn simply wants to see a level playing field for fighters in mixed martial arts. At the moment, “The Prodigy” believes that there is still a lot of room for improvement in regards to USADA.
In a previous interview with SportsJoe, Tri-Star head coach Firas Zahabi explained why Human Growth Hormone (HGH) could be the most effective PED for improving a fighters performance.
“One time I was training a doctor and we were talking about that, what would be the most dangerous thing? What should we be aware of that our opponents might be taking. I remember him telling me that the best thing out there is HGH. Why? Because it helps you recover so much.”
“He was a big believer that recovery was the number one component of taking PEDs and I agree with him totally. If I can train really hard and recover the next day, that means the next day I can train even more. I’ll train even more, I’ll become even more competent.”
BJ Penn has not competed in mixed martial arts since June of 2017, where he suffered a majority decision loss to Dennis Siver at UFC Oklahoma.
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