Forget TUE’s, Can Belfort Even Be Licensed Under The NSAC Rules?






Vitor Belfort’s controversial use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy will be in the spotlight again if his title shot takes place, as rumoured, in Nevada.  Belfort has never been granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption by the State with NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer stating it is doubtful one would be granted.  This is a well grounded comment given the test Belfort would need to pass to receive a TUE in Nevada.

Given the above, reports are now surfacing that Belfort may simply not apply for a TUE if asked to fight in Las Vegas.  (Update January 23 – Belfort now confirms he will indeed ask for a TUE)

Whether Belfort applies for a TUE or not the NSAC is put in a troubling position.  If the NSAC follows their rules not only is a TUE a tough sell, getting an MMA Unarmed Combatant’s licence may also be out of reach for Belfort.  The reason is simple, TRT without a TUE violates the NSAC Rules and this breach allows a licence to be denied in the first place.

Here’s the legal breakdown:

NAC 467.850 adopts the World Anti Doping Agency Prohibited List of Substances.  The WADA 2014 Prohibited List includes anabolic agents both in and out of competition.  Out of Competition bans mean that without a TUE there is no time that the prohibited substances can be taken.  That means that, absent a TUE, all of Belfort’s TRT treatments amount to illegal doping in the eyes of the adopted WADA standards.  NAC 467.850 adopts similar language prohibiting unapproved “drugs or injections…either before or during a contest“.

Failing to apply (or receive) a TUE does not take away the commission’s knowledge that Belfort uses TRT.  In addition to the media spotlight on this topic, Belfort will be forced to disclose his TRT use to the commission when he applies for a licence to fight.  NAC 467.027 requires Belfort to “provide with the application for a license…an original or certified copy of the results of medical tests which were performed by a laboratory during the calendar year for which the licence is being issued“.  Given that Belfort admits to regular blood tests such records clearly exist.

Once the Commission “officially” learns of Belfort’s TRT use they need to address this situation and decide whether to issue an unarmed combatant’s licence.

NAC 467.082 discusses when the Commission may deny a licence.  The grounds include violating any provision of Chapter 467 which includes the anti doping rules.  Notably the commission has the discretion to provide a licence but it would be peculiar to not grant a TUE yet fail to address past NSAC unapproved TRT use or Belfort’s medical condition requiring TRT.  If a licence is denied the rules even have a built in timeline to address this situation.  Rule 467.087 calls for a one year waiting period for refiling.

Another troubling aspect of not applying for or receiving a TUE is that the commission is forced to grapple with medical clearance to fight. In Belfort’s situation he has stated that his underlying medical condition needing TRT “is something that can cause serious health problems and even death. You can have problems, big problems, if it’s untreated. ”  To quote VADA:

Vada Tweet re Discontiued TRT Use




This paints the NSAC in a corner. If he needs TRT and without it he risks ‘serious health problems’ he should not be licenced to fight without it.  However, his prior failed PED test makes the legal test for an NSAC TUE tough to meet.  If he does not need it then the commission must come to terms with his prior use.    They can either deny his licence for one year, grant a TUE or allow him to be licensed without a TUE.  Whatever the result, if Belfort seeks to fight in Nevada the NSAC will have to address the controversial TRT situation head on.  Whoever gets the job as the new NSAC Executive Director will quickly have their skills put to the test navigating these waters.



4 thoughts on “Forget TUE’s, Can Belfort Even Be Licensed Under The NSAC Rules?

  1. Great blog.

    Are these unarmed combatant licenses granted for a standardized length of time? How long? If a fighter uses TRT during the period he is unlicensed, is he expected to apply for a TUE? If so, doesn’t this mean he would have to apply for a TUE to all commissions in all jurisdictions that he plans to fight in the future (assuming they adopt the WADA List)? Seems like a lot to ask of a fighter.

    Perhaps the rule is this: if a fighter has fought in a particular jurisdiction whose commission adopts the WADA List, then he is expected to apply for a TUE with that commission or risk being denied a license next time he applies.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I’m not suggesting that a combatant needs to apply for a licence in all jurisdictions. That of course would be unreasonable. However, a commission needs to apply their own rules when an applicant is seeking a licence and a TUE.

    Most jurisdictions issue licenses for a set period, usually one year. “Out of Competition” PED’s are banned at all times. However, if the combatant is not licensed while using nor applying for a licence the commission has no jurisdiction over them. That said, when the combatant applies for a licence the past use is certainly a relevant consideration regarding whether they should issue a licence.

  3. Now I’m really confused. Presumably Belfort is not licensed in NV as he hasn’t fought there in a long time. If the commission has no jurisdiction over a fighter when he is not licensed, doesn’t that mean NAC has had no jurisdiction over Belfort during this time? You wrote,

    “getting an MMA Unarmed Combatant’s licence may also be out of reach for Belfort. The reason is simple, TRT without a TUE violates the NSAC Rules and this breach allows a licence to be denied in the first place.”

    Did he ever use TRT without a TUE while being licensed by (and therefore under the jurisdiction of) the NAC? Or maybe what you are saying is that he would have to go off TRT from the time that he submits his application for a license to the time that the NAC makes a ruling.

  4. Thanks for your follow up. What I’m saying is that if the NSAC does not grant a TUE for TRT then they must grapple with the reality that the applicant has been taking, what is in their view and according to their rules, a prohibited substance.

    Given recent research that the benefits of doping can last well beyond drug discontinuance

    the AC needs to address the issue of whether a combatant licence should be issued at all.

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