Doctor Lewis has a background in sports medicine, and as chairman of the Australasian Ringside Medical Association, has extensive experience in attendance ringside at boxing and kickboxing fights.
Doctor Lewis identifies some of the problems with drug testing:
The main one is cost. There is no way that we could afford to test every fighter for every drug. Because we can only test for some drugs the effect of testing means that we will only catch out the ignorant and poor drug users. Pro athletes with expensive sports scientists behind them can always get around the tests.
It has long been argued that despite drug testing in MMA, that there are fighters who are getting around the tests by cycling their drug taking appropriately, or by just being able to afford human growth hormone etc that don’t appear to be picked up by current drug testing regimes.
However, Doctor Lewis has a bigger problem with what the existence of a drug testing program implies:
The biggest problem with drug testing is that the very existence of the testing program implies that fighters have an unfair advantage if they are using drugs and I am not sure that that is the case. Some young people will think that if we test for drugs, they must work and therefore they will try them out because they’ll do anything to win.
Badr Hari was recently caught with steroids and human growth hormone. It is unknown how long Hari has been using PEDs, but they certainly don’t appear to have done him any favours in his fights so far in 2013.
What does Doctor Lewis recommend?
I think we need a drug education campaign in conjunction with testing to make it quite clear that we test to ensure fighter safety and that drugs do not give the fighter an advantage. Most good fighters do not use drugs. They are fit, they train hard and they have good skills. Many of the fighters who use drugs are lazy and they lose.
I think on that criteria alone, drug testing is long overdue in kickboxing.
What do you think?
More info on Doctor Lewis here