BJ Penn Walks a Lonely Road

Written by Tom Ngo
July 26th, 2011


Testosterone Replacement Therapy has been the talk of MMA since Nate Marquardt was fired from the UFC after failing his medicals while on the controversial treatment. As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, the use of performance-enhancing drugs has become the chiseled elephant in the room that most seem to keep ignoring.

In steps BJ Penn, one of the game’s most accomplished and talented fighters. The former multi-divisional UFC champ has been the most vocal about the abuse of illegal substances because he claims he’s one of the very few that doesn’t dabble in PEDs.

“I think everyone is really of the same opinion as I am, if they want to admit it or not,” Penn told The MMA Hour. “Stuff like this is not easy to talk about. We’re talking about friends and colleagues of mine. They look at me and they hear me say these things, and they’re like, ‘You know you’re the only guy that doesn’t do it, right?’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’”

Penn is a 10-year veteran that has traveled all over the globe to compete. Not only has he made a name for himself over the last decade, but he befriended many other great fighters along the way. Unfortunately for ”The Prodigy,” that’s where the whole whistle-blowing dilemma lies.

“It’s a catch-22 for me,” Penn expressed. “I believe so strongly in fair play and all these things, and on the other side, it’s people you know and people you look up to, legends of the sport. They’ve been involved with stuff like that.

“I guess I shouldn’t be so outspoken because I have so many friends and colleagues and so many people I respect in this sport that have gotten involved with stuff like TRT and hormone replacement.”

The cheater’s handbook for TRT suggests athletes are manipulating the regimen while preparing for a fight. They will jack up their testosterone levels beyond normal ranges in order to push their bodies to its outermost limit. As showtime steadily approaches, they will then taper off the treatment to get their testosterone back to a natural level – therefore, no flunked drug tests.

Considering he’s been around the block and back, Penn fully understands he too could easily capture the competitive edge he believes his peers are enjoying. Instead, he opted to go the Nancy Reagan route from the jump.

“I always said no,” Penn flatly stated. “I always believed that technique is what it was all about. That’s why I always took on the bigger challenges … I always believed it was in the technique. I always believed the needle is not the answer. I always believed that. I still believe it today.”

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