I must've missed it when they originally spoke, but Sherdog.com got around to posting the transcript of a radio conversation they had with USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart. USADA, of course, stands for United States Anti-Doping Agency and arguably offers the most rigorous drug testing of any governing body today in professional and amateur athletics.
Tygart was asked about what constitutes high levels of testosterone to where the tipping point is crossed into PED territory as well as that of UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen's outrageous claims. The back and forth is illuminating:
Sherdog.com: What does it indicate if someone’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels are awfully high?
Tygart: It means you’ve used testosterone. The simple fact is we all produce testosterone and epitestosterone at the same levels. And so it’s 1-to-1. Now I might be 100 nanograms of testosterone in the afternoon, but I’m also going to be 100 nanograms of epitestosterone in the afternoon. At night, I might be 200 nanograms of testosterone, but I’m also going to be 200 nanograms of epitestosterone; which means my ratio is 1-to-1, even if the absolute concentrations of testosterone and epitestosterone change. So what the test does is it looks at, in the urine, that ratio. And based on controlled studies and the public peer-reviewed publications that are out there, it is abnormal to be above 4-to-1. Some people might produce testosterone at 200-to-100 of epitestosterone, or 400-to-200 of epitestosterone, but they’re always going to be 2-to-1. But most people are always 1-to-1. But there are no people, essentially, unless they’ve doped, who are 4-to-1 or greater. You may remember the Floyd Landis case, the cycling case. He was 11-to-1 on his T/E ratio, his testosterone to epitestosterone.
Sherdog.com: Chael Sonnen was 16.9-to-1.
Tygart: Yeah, I mean, look, 4-to-1 is the cutoff. Anything above 4 to 1 is a violation; 16 to 1 is clear indication of use of testosterone or another designer steroid that would affect the testosterone pathway.
Sherdog.com: And what does that do for the athlete? What does that do for an MMA fighter?
Tygart: The strength, the recovery, pound-for-pound power. I mean, it’s a potent ... it’s the male sex hormone. If athletes could use that in a combat sport without consequence, those who are using the most of it staying within their weight categories would be the ones that dominate the sport.
Sherdog.com: Here’s what Sonnen said, and I’d like your response to this: "Saying testosterone is a steroid is like saying mouthwash is alcohol."
Tygart: (Laughs) Oh, man. I don’t even know how to respond to that. I don’t know this fighter, I don’t know his case, but that’s just totally inaccurate.
Speaking personally, I'm waiting for the next person to interview Sonnen to ask him how it can be that he told the California State Athletic Commission in May he would either have his suspension lifted or he'd be 'effectively retired', yet, here he is competing today.