The UFC has cracked down on users of performance enhancing drugs. Hooray. But ours is a young sport, and not too many years ago the notion of reining in such rampant drug use would’ve bordered on the realms of fantasy and science fiction. Case in point: Mark Kerr. In the pre-Zuffa days of the UFC, he was a monster of a wrestler, a destroyer of men, and when he skipped over to PRIDE FC (where the real money was back then), he was a beast there. Until the drugs wore him down to nothing, and then he was a beast no more.
Veteran journalist Josh Gross has penned a pretty definitive piece on Kerr, and it provides some never-before-seen insight into what was going on back then. Here’s a snippet:
Kerr said doctors conducting pre-fight medicals ignored obvious warning signs of his steroid use.
“I remember sitting across the table from the doctor, and the doctor looking at my liver enzymes,” Kerr said. “When you do anabolics in high amounts it messes with your liver enzymes. The doctor was looking at me and looking at the liver enzymes and looking at me. He said, ‘Do you realize this is eight times the normal amount you’re supposed to have?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ and that was it. They allowed me to fight.”
The first time a UFC fighter was caught and held accountable for using performance enhancing drugs came in Nevada in March 2002. Josh Barnett was then stripped by Zuffa of the UFC heavyweight championship, which he won by grounding-and-pounding Couture for a late second-round stoppage.
“I can go back and look at the film and point out pretty much everyone that was doing it,” Kerr said. “I think just because of the level of brutality sometimes the sport has, the level of conditioning the sport requires, means the level of training you have to put your body through is incredibly intensive. And because you have to do that intensive training, if you have the ability to aid your recovery by doing anabolics or androgenics you’re probably going to lean towards it because it allows you to train harder longer. If you can train harder longer you can be in better shape, and then it comes down to the big deal, which is money.”
The whole piece is fantastic. Give it a read.