Following yesterday’s hour-long interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Nate Marquardt has now put his side of the story in written form. Nate released his official statement via HDNet:
In August, 2010 I was diagnosed with very low testosterone levels. I initially went to a Primary Care Physician because I was feeling sluggish, lethargic, suffered memory loss, and felt over trained when I knew I should not have been. That physician placed me on a hormone replacement regimen after I consulted the UFC.
Prior to my fight in New Jersey in March, 2011 I was told by the New Jersey athletic commission that I would be allowed to fight, but I would be placed on suspension immediately afterward. The suspension was levied because the paperwork submitted by my Primary Care Physician appeared to be incomplete and the treatment regimen I was placed on was not within the standard of care, nor approved by, the USADA guidelines. I was told the suspension would be lifted once I had been off treatment for at least 8 weeks and pending approval from an endocrinologist that the HRT was necessary based off of several blood tests.
I complied with all the requirements of the New Jersey commission and stopped all treatments. During this process I kept everyone informed of my progress and my testosterone levels fell below the reference range. My previous symptoms of fatigue and lethargy then became worse. The endocrinologist that I was seeing recommended I resume hormone replacement therapy.
Based on his recommendation, my Primary Care Physician started a new treatment roughly three weeks prior to the fight in Pennsylvania that was more aggressive than before due to the close proximity of the fight. My Primary Care Physician administered treatment in an effort to get me to levels that would be appropriate for someone of my age and within acceptable limits for the fight. Two weeks after I resumed treatment I was tested to see where my testosterone levels were. These test results showed that my levels were high. I consulted my doctor who indicated I should stop treatment, which I did.
You can check out the rest of the statement over at HD.net.
What Nate fails to mention in the statement though is how one of those post-UFC 128 blood tests came back “beyond the commission’s acceptable limits for the hormone.” The way Nate tells the story, his testosterone had dropped to the point after those eight weeks where he began to feel the symptoms again and went back on the treatment. But if that was the case, how did he fail one of the tests and get denied for the exemption with the NJACB? I feel like we’re missing something here.
On a side note, one of Marquardt’s trainers, Trevor Whitman has weighed in on the story. Whitman made some pretty interesting comments in an interview with MMA Fighting’s Ben Fowlkes.
“When it hit — and I know Nate feels the same way — but I can’t tell you the feeling I had at the weigh-ins when this was happening,” Wittman said. “I really felt like I wanted to go and put a hood over my head and walk out of there. There were spots where I was pushing myself to go back in the room and not answer calls from the press. I had to hide in the bushes, basically, all out of respect for Nate.”
“Nate Marquardt is a guy who’s never been untruthful with me. Everything that he tells me, and everything he told me going into this fight and back before New Jersey, it’s something that he truly believes in. He went and had his testosterone checked. And when I spoke to him about it, I could tell he really believes he’d done the right thing, because the doctors are telling him, ‘Your levels are low. You need this. This is why you’re tired. We’ll give you this and you’ll perform like you’re young again.’ Man, you start telling a guy that, he’s going to believe you.
“His honesty from the beginning — doing these tests, asking for permission to do this — that’s what hurt him. His honesty got him put in this situation. It’s so hard to watch one of the most honest guys I’ve ever trained — the biggest family man, the guy who signs every autograph — get scolded and cut and lose his career and get this brand on him, all because he felt like he was doing the right thing.”
Whitman’s biggest fear is that cases like these are going to tarnish his gym’s reputation and that’s something he’s not going to let happen. He plans to sit down with all his fighters, find out who their doctors are, what they’re taking and if he finds anything performance enhancing then he’s going to “step away” from them. Whether he continues to work with Nate remains to be seen.
Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog
Update: BE’s Mike Fagan has done a wonderful job of putting together a timeline that clears up all the confusion that at least I had about Marquardt’s New Jersey testing. Basically, Marquardt failed one of the tests because it was administered after he took the testosterone shot for UFC on Versus 4.
February 11, 2011: Marquardt applies for a therapeutic use exemption with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Marquardt receives a letter back from New Jersey stating that, while the information his doctor submitted was incomplete and the treatment did not follow USADA guidelines, they would grant him a conditional exemption so long as he agreed to halt treatment for eight weeks following his fight with Dan Miller and submit to three consecutive blood tests.
March 19, 2011: Marquardt defeats Dan Miller by unanimous decision in Newark, New Jersey.
March-May, 2011: Marquardt goes off treatment for eight weeks. New Jersey administers three blood tests, all of which come back within an acceptable range for a TUE.
Early June, 2011: Marquardt’s doctor recommends restarting treatment more aggressively. Marquardt had been using pills to kickstart his pituitary glands, but his doctor insists on injecting him with testosterone because of the close proximity to his fight.
June 18, 2011: New Jersey requests another blood test from Marquardt. New Jersey protocol requires two tests before and after approval for a fight. This test fails for being, quoting Meltzer, “more than double normal males of his age group, which would have been due to his just receiving a testosterone shot.” New Jersey denies Marquardt’s TUE application, and sends that information to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania tells Marquardt to get under the limit, or they will not license him to fight.
“He was not at an unfair advantage against Dan Miller in New Jersey,” Lembo said. “If his levels were abnormal, the fight result would have been changed and Nate Marquardt would have been suspended, and his TUE would have been denied at that time. But when he fought Miller, his levels were fine.”
The problem then, came afterward, as the state continued to monitor him through June. Marquardt had been asked to stop undergoing therapy for eight weeks to check his baseline levels, which he did. He took three tests in May, and two in June. Everything seemed fine until he returned to his personal doctor, a primary care physician. The NJACB had strongly suggested Marquardt continue his care under a board-certified endocrinologist.
On June 16, a week before his scheduled Pennsylvania fight with Rick Story, Marquardt took another test in his continued New Jersey monitoring. The results of this one, however, were high, forcing a TUE denial and full disclosure to the Pennsylvania commission. For the longtime UFC mainstay, it was the beginning of the end of his octagon career. But since it had no impact on his March fight with Miller, the result of that fight — a Marquardt unanimous decision — will stand.
“What we want to do is ensure there’s no unfair advantage,” Lembo said. “On the night of the fight, there was not. Nate came to us and cooperated. He was subjected to several tests. Once the TUE process started, he was compliant all the way along until weeks later, returning to his original treating physician. His next test had problems. If you’re continually tested and your level is high, you’re going to get caught.”
It seems Nate’s biggest mistake in all of this was seeing his personal doctor and agreeing to the injections instead of seeing a board-certified endocrinologist as recommended by the NJACB.