The Cyborg Problem

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It was announced by the California State Athletic Commission on January 6, 2012 that Cris Cyborg (real name Cristiane Justino Santos), the 26 year old Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion and the undisputed #1 Pound for Pound Women MMA fighter in the world, tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol. The test was administered on Dec. 16th, 2011, the day before Cyborg retained her title against Hiroko Yamanaka with an overwhelming 16 second victory via TKO. The test results came back on Dec. 23rd, and Cyborg  was supsended for 1 year, fined $2,500 and the result of her win was changed to a No-Decision; furthermore, Zuffa (parent owner of both the UFC and Strikeforce) stripped Cyborg of her Featherweight championship.

One can look at Cyborg’s muscular physique and say “No kidding”. But there are a lot of other issues to consider here.

First of all, performance enhancing drugs pose very serious problems in competitive sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s a male or female sport/league, there are a lot of individuals who use PED’s in order to gain an advantage in the playing field. Why do they use it even if it’s illegal? Because the risk/reward balance of partaking in these illegal substances encourages cheating. If you listen to someone who would know – Victor Conte –  it’s not that difficult to avoid getting caught. And the reward for not getting caught? The cheater ends up making a lot more money than they normally would, and sometimes ends up with Hall of Fame careers that will be remembered for decades to come.

However, PED’s have more disturbing consequences in MMA and Boxing than it does in other sports, even Football. MMA and Boxing are combat sports, folks. This isn’t track & field where an illegal competitive advantage means you run faster than the man or woman next to you, or baseball where it means you hit the ball further than you did before. In combat sports, if one fighter is using PED’s and the other is not, the competitive advantage is during a FIGHT. A legalized fight, but a fight nonetheless.

But PED’s in Women’s MMA pose a bigger problem than it does in Men’s MMA. This isn’t to say that there is no use of illegal substances in Men’s MMA; far from it. What it is though, is simply a matter of science and nature. Women produce less testosterone than men naturally. By taking steroids like Stanozolol, a woman can increase her testosterone to male levels. Think about that – if a juiced up woman is fighting a clean one, in effect, it’s a MAN fighting a woman. That is disturbing on a LOT of levels.

Sadly however, as long as the rewards of cheating outweighs the risk of getting caught, P.E.D.’s in all competitive sports will continue to be a problem.

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