Performance enhancing drugs in sports has been a problem for a very long time. Yet these sports are still around. When Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds were caught with steroids, the MLB population was in an uproar. But that was never going to be enough to end the American past time. When Barrett Roberts and Chris Cooper confessed to taking steroids in the NFL, football didn’t go away. It seems like almost any professional athlete can take performance enhancing drugs and get away with it. If they get caught, there is a slap on the wrist, a suspension a fine, and then they’re back on the field. This works for almost all main stream sports. NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, but what about the Mixed Martial Art profession?
If you take steroids in any of these other sports, they may help you run faster, jump higher, or increase your stamina to play longer. If steroids are taken in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), they help you beat the crap out of another person. So not only are you putting yourself at risk with these drugs, you’re putting another human being at risk.
The UFC has been trying to build its reputation as a sport since Royce Gracie helped found it in 1993. In the beginning the
sport had a very hard time gaining support due to its violent nature, and lack of regulation. The league was later sold to the Fertitta brothers, and Dana White was appointed president. The PR work that the current owners put into the UFC is what made it into what it is today. Branching out to the younger generations in the United States, and appealing to their more violent nature, the sport was wildly accepted around the world, but still not at the same level as the NBA or NHL. So when news got out of fighters taking steroids, the National Association of Sports Commissions went to work, but what about the UFC PR manager?
When it came to growing the UFC as a brand, the Public Relations team, lead by former PR manager Jen Wenk, did a great job. But when hit with a controversy that could possibly end the entire sport and the UFC along with it, they are nowhere to be seen. So are they doing their jobs correctly or not? I think that they are doing their jobs perfectly. None of this has been on the news at all. You have to be pretty specific in order to find out anything about the steroid scandal, and every video I’ve seen of president Dana White has him denouncing the use of steroids and totally staying away from the issue with the fighter involved (Chael Sonnen) specifically. He says “I’m not getting involved in this thing. It’s Chael, His people, and the athletic commission that are going to have to work this thing out.”
This video shows Dana White expressing his feelings towards the NASC. He exemplifies his lack of power and therefore the UFC’s lack of responsibility. There are at least two other videos were Dana says the exact same thing, which leads me to believe he was told to say it by his PR manager.
So directing the media away from the UFC and steroids and making this an isolated incident seems to be the play that they are making, and so far it’s working out for them. The UFC is still alive and scheduling fights, and the news of steroid use has been limited to few internet webcasts, and a few disgruntled ant-MMA proponents. But will this work forever?
This strategy is working now, but what will happen when another fighter is found with steroids? Do you think that this strategy will always work?