All but one count of Mark Hunt’s lawsuit against the UFC, UFC President Dana White and Brock Lesnar was thrown out in U.S. District Court. The former UFC heavyweight argued he didn’t consent to Lesnar allegedly doping and therefore, was entitled to criminal battery relief. The judge in the case ruled while doping is wrong, a fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA) assumes the risk of this possibility whenever they compete. While some see this as a travesty, the judge is unfortunately quite correct.
First, the criminalization of doping is an entirely unjustifiable idea that stems from the failed war on drugs. Criminal prosecution of drug use, even for sport, causes more harm than good. Second, for the courts to get involved in doping in the way Hunt asked would open the door to all manner of oversight for sport that could set bad precedents. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the judge isn’t arguing doping is a good or that Hunt explicitly agreed to fight a doping competitor, but that one has to know this is a risk every time they enter the cage. Elimination of that risk is impossible. Moreover, when Hunt acknowledged Lesnar did not fight in any way unusual for the sport and that the injuries he sustained are in keeping with the kinds of injuries he typically suffers in an MMA bout, he ultimately lost the argument. If you’re making a claim about the increased harm PEDs cause and you can’t provide evidence for it, the argument falls apart.
Anti-doping zealots have fed the public a series of fictions to explain the need for harsh enforcement. One of them was that they are needed to keep MMA safer. Aside from the open question of how safe MMA can be before losing an audience, there’s literally zero evidence for this claim. The argument that MMA gets safer with harsher anti-doping protocol rests on talking points and not a shred of evidence about the aggregate changes in the UFC.
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