The time has come for The Notorious to be put under the steroid spotlight.
Is Conor Mcgregor's obsessive work ethic/ferocious winning mentality/alpha male behaviour the result of steroids? Or is he just a beast and the exception in a drug-fueled UFC.
Firstly, if there's one thing we know for certain, it's that steroids are rife in the UFC. Hector Lombard, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Frank Mir are just some high-profile names who have been busted in the sport.
Even athletes IN the organisation have spoken publicly about the amount of drug-use going on behind the scenes.
Nate Diaz got the whole world talking when he accused Conor Mcgregor of taking steroids in the build up to their first fight in 2016, where the Irishman moved up 2 weight classes in 3 months. Here's a before and after of the Irishman who put his weight gain down to “eating steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner” (1)
Conor Mcgregor's Controversial Transformation
On the left we see Conor doing his best Christian Bale impression (in the Machinist), and on the right he looks like a man where…if he punched you, it would probably hurt.
There's no reason why Conor wouldn't be able to gain 23lbs of weight naturally in 2 months (with most of it being muscle weight), because I've done it myself. I'll tell you how it's possible.
When fighters diet down dramatically before a fight, they're at a high risk of losing muscle. If they have to drop a lot of weight, calorie intake is super low and cortisol levels are sky high, causing a loss in muscle tissue.
However, thanks to muscle memory, it's possible to regain this same muscle mass back once a person starts to overeat again. Usually when a person overeats, most of the weight gain will be in the form of fat. However, when you've lost muscle tissue from under-eating and you start overeating again, your body distributes the weight differently. Almost ALL of the weight you gain will be in the form of muscle, until you recoup all of your previous muscle size. Then once all muscle mass is restored, any extra weight gain on top of this will be predominantly fat.
This is how Christian Bale was able to bulk up from the Machinist to Batman Begins without taking steroids. He was simply restoring the previous muscle mass he had before, rather than building 100lbs of new muscle tissue.
I also put this concept to the test when I lost a tonne of muscle from doing HIIT training on an empty stomach in the morning (don't ever do this, unless you want to be a beanpole). However, once I stopped training on an empty stomach and began overeating, I gained all my muscle back without my body fat percentage fluctuating much.
Here's the transformation picture of me REGAINING approximately 40lbs of muscle (naturally) in just 8 weeks of eating crazy amounts of food.
It's clear that Conor lost a lot of muscle in the December 2015 photo, almost resembling a skeleton at 145lbs. Thus I find his 23lb weight gain realistic (without taking steroids), because he experienced extreme weight loss beforehand. If he hadn't lost weight previously this weight gain would be dubious.
However, what we don't know is whether Conor took steroids prior to his 2015 before photo.
Conor Mcgregor's Lie Detector Results
We requested for a professional to conduct a ‘Discourse Analysis' to find out if Conor was telling the truth or not during this press conference (where he's accused of taking steroids)
A typical discourse analysis like the one below is considered to be 92% accurate (2).
Here are the experts notes on the video:
**Beginning of notes**
Diaz: They’re all on steroids. They’re all on steroids. Everybody.
Firstly, the accusation is “Everybody is on steroids” – which is generic.
McGregor: Steroids? Don’t be talk, don’t be putting my name to steroids. I’m major against that. Don’t put my name in the name of steroids Nate.
Answering an accusation with a question, points towards it being a sensitive topic (to Conor). Doing this gives a person time to think and speak on the topic or to deflect.
Here McGregor doesn’t deny it, but he hasn’t been accused personally or as an individual. He pauses, hesitates and repeats himself in the negative “don’t be,” he says, “he’s major against that”. But what is he against? Here it’s having his name put to steroids which are his words.
He doesn’t say he’s major against taking steroids. He reaffirms this by repeating “don’t be putting my name in the name of steroids”. Is this because he hasn’t taken them? Which he hasn’t been able to say, or is it because it could affect his career and reputation?
Reporter: Nate, you made a pretty bold accusation a couple of minutes ago. Um, do you want to elaborate a little bit more about that?
Diaz: What was it, what?
Reporter: The steroids comments.
Diaz: Everybody’s on steroids. The whole UFC, everybody.
Diaz repeats his accusation, Everybody, the whole UFC. If he’s part of the UFC, is he including himself here?
McGregor: Your teammate Gill and Jake were two caught on steroids. Not me.
This is telling. McGregor is saying he’s not been CAUGHT taking steroids. Not that he hasn’t taken them or he’s not taking them, rather, that he hasn’t been caught.
Diaz: And you and… (inaudible)
Diaz doesn’t answer the comment. Likely because he knew what his teammates were doing. He deflects making his accusation personal saying McGregor is on steroids.
McGregor: (talking over) Not me, Not me. What you talking about. Not me. I’m not on no steroids. What you Mother Fucking talking about? Your two team mates were on steroids, that’s, your two boys, the scrap pack, remember that, what happened there, they were, did you know they were talking that stuff? Did you know they were taking that stuff? Did ya?
McGregor says, “I’m not on no steroids” this isn’t a reliable denial as he's using the present tense. A reliable denial includes the past tense such as “I haven't taken steroids”. It could be possible that he's on something else at that moment in time. He then deflects onto Diaz's team mates.
Nate: You’re on steroids.
McGregor: Sure I am. I’m just an animal. I’m just an animal.
Even when using sarcasm, this could be classed as an embedded admission “Sure I am”.
With a big fight coming up, it’s likely McGregor is being careful. He’s not denied ever taking drugs and is only major against having his name put to steroids. McGregor makes it clear that he’s not been caught, which doesn’t make him innocent. He tries to deflect without giving a reliable denial. It would strongly suggest that McGregor has taken steroids in the past.
At the time of the interview, I would question what he was on. This is something that would require follow up questions. In addition, Nate Diaz very likely knew what his teammates were doing, hence “everybody’s on steroids.”
**End of notes**
Interesting. So, the professional human lie detector is confident that Conor HAS taken steroids in the past; and says it's possible Conor's taking something at the time of the press conference.
This verdict may not come as a shock to UFC fans, as this is a sport where all the top guys are thought to be juicing.
Nate Diaz: “Everybody's on steroids. The whole UFC, everybody”.
Conor Mcgregor: “The boy is not far wrong, they f*cking all are on steroids. So it is f*cked up” (3).
Joe Rogan: The UFC and MMA in general is a steroid epidemic. Everyone is on steroids, or a huge percentage (4).
So the question beckons – why would Conor take steroids or other drugs?
Taking steroids means fighters can train for longer, hit harder and recover faster. These are 3 fundamental elements of MMA. Without steroids, Conor would overtrain by spending 4 hours a day in the gym (5). Also by not taking steroids he'd be significantly weaker and slower than his opponents.
If Conor Has Taken Steroids in the Past – When Was It?
After much research, I believe there's three possible time periods for when Conor's been on steroids.
- After the age of 16
- Before UFC hired USADA
- Any time recently
1. Did Conor Take Steroids After the Age of 16?
The best way to tell if and when someone's taken steroids is to analyse their body composition over the majority of their lifespan. This is what I refer to as a person's gains timeline.
We're going to look at Conor and how he looked like at 16 and compare it to how he looks like now (at his biggest).
We can see that Conor's put on roughly 30lbs of muscle since his teen days; with his arms, pecs and shoulders growing significantly in size.
Steroids cause the most growth in your deltoids (shoulders), as they're very androgenic in nature. With your shoulders having more androgen receptors than other muscle groups, they often blow up when you start juicing. Conor Mcgregor's shoulders have quite simply transformed from tennis balls into canonballs. It is possible to gain big shoulders naturally, but this is an unlikely scenario for a natural athlete, who has such small shoulders to begin with.
We can also see from the image below that Conor's gained a significant amount of mass from the age of 16-18.
This could point to steroid-use as he's gained a lot of muscle in just 2 years. Although a male's muscles aren't fully developed until the age of 18 (6), meaning it's possible this is a natural growth spurt; to gain this much muscle is not common and more likely attributed to steroids.
The Conor Mcgregor we see today has a similar amount of muscle mass as to what he had at 18. Thus I believe this is when he first could've started taking steroids. If he hadn't taken them at this age and took them later on, he'd be much bigger now in comparison to this picture of him at 18. And he's not.
It's not unheard of for teenagers to take steroids, especially if they're participating in a sport such as MMA, where their performance can be enhanced. It's been found that 11% of kids in high school have taken steroids (7).
2. Did Conor Stop Taking Steroids When UFC Hired USADA?
Ex-UFC fighter Chris Leben said “it wasn't rocket science” to beat UFC drugs tests in the past. He said you'd be given the date of the test so you could easily cycle off in time, ensuring the steroids cleared out of your system. Chris said that you only got caught if you were stupid (like he was).
However, later in July 2015 USADA (the United States Anti-Doping agency) were hired to try and clean up the sport. As a result they conduct random testing so you can't cycle off steroids in time for a specific date.
In just 2 years since USADA were hired, they've busted several UFC athletes for taking steroids/other drugs to enhance performance. Below is a list of athletes who've been caught and what they've tested positive for.
- Tim Means – Ostarine
- Diego Brandao – Marijuana
- Chad Mendes – GHRP-6 (growth hormone-releasing peptide)
- Yoel Romero – Ibutamoren
- Mirko “cro cop”- Human growth hormone
- Frank Mir – Turinabol
- Lyoto Machida – 7-Keto DHEA
- B.J Penn – IVs
- Brock Lesnar – Anti-estrogens
So one possibility could be that Conor Mcgregor was taking steroids in the pre-USADA era, but now he's clean because he doesn't want to get caught.
It's obvious that some fighters have stopped taking steroids since the UFC appointed USADA, because their muscles have noticeably shrunk in size (see the video below). Other fighters have continued taking steroids and have got caught. And I'm sure there are others who continue to take them now and haven't been popped.
3. Has Conor Used Steroids Recently (After USADA)?
It's also possible that Conor Mcgregor's been taking steroids AFTER the appointment of USADA.
But how could someone pass their tests if they're on steroids?
First of all, USADA don't have a great reputation when it comes to drug testing. They've been contracted to test athletes in boxing, yet mysteriously they're yet to have anyone fail one of their tests (in boxing). However, VADA, another drug testing organisation, have also tested boxers – but have found numerous boxers to be juicing. These include big names such as: Shannon Briggs, Tyson Fury and Luis Otiz.
One logical explanation you could come to, as to why anyone would hire USADA instead of VADA, is to ‘purchase' a result. USADA are known to be 10x more expensive than VADA, yet VADA are the ones catching people – not USADA. Could USADA be protecting some UFC fighters from testing positive?
Also there was huge controversy over the Pacquao vs Mayweather fight when IVs were found in Mayweather's system before the bout. USADA failed to tell the Nevada State Athletic Commission about this. 18 days after the fight Mayweather was given an exemption to use the banned substance on “retroactive theraputive” grounds. This is a loophole meaning they could get away with not informing the Nevada Commission before the fight. Here's what the experts had to say on this matter.
Don Catlin said:
“It’s very troubling to me. USADA has yet to explain to my satisfaction why Mayweather needed an IV infusion. There might be a valid explanation, but I don’t know what it is.”
Victor Conte also made a statement saying:
“There are strict criteria for the granting of a TUE. You don’t hand them out like Halloween candy. And this sort of IV use is clearly against the rules. Also, from a medical point of view, if they’re administering what they said they did, it doesn’t make sense to me. There are more effective ways to rehydrate. If you drank ice-cold Celtic seawater, you’d have far greater benefits. It’s very suspicious to me.”
USADA also drug test for the Olympics and in the video below Victor Conte reveals exactly how athletes pass these tests with ease. Who better to ask than the man who used to supply steroids to Olympic athletes himself and help keep them under the radar. UFC athletes could be using the same strategy to beat USADA testing today.
Conor Mcgregor: USADA Drug Testing is a “Flawed System”
Conor Mcgregor also hints that USADA's testing can be beat, as they hire people from the same country as the athletes to carry out the tests – instead of USADA doing it themselves. Conor suggests this is flawed due to bias, as the people testing are often friendly with the fighters and “will look the other way” if they need to.
Bisping Reaveals USADA Loophole
UFC fighter Michael Bisping also reveals another loophole in the USADA drug testing system, where he was told that he could “forget” to tell them (USADA) about supplements he'd been taking.
So if he took a supplement that was fine to take, but it skewed the results making him test positive, he could come back later and say he forgot to say he was taking this or that supplement. As a result he'd be let off the hook, if USADA finds the supplement did contain an ingredient that would cause a failed test. Doesn't sound that hard to do with some research.
It doesn't take a genius to know there's something off with USADA; and it seems everyone in the UFC knows it.
If USADA are corrupt, then why do some people still get busted?
USADA got hired in the first place to clean up the sport, so the UFC's reputation is on the line if this doesn't happen. Thus there's pressure on USADA to find athletes juicing.
One theory could be – the people who get exposed are the ones who aren't smart enough to pass the tests.
Another Way to Pass a USADA Drugs Test
USADA test athlete's T/E ratio. This measures a person's testosterone in correlation with their epitestosterone.
Both of these are natural male hormones in the body. Testosterone enhances performance, whilst epitestosterone doesn't. A man's normal T/E ratio is just above 1:1. According to WADA protocol, if an athlete has a higher T/E ratio of 4:1 they're deemed to be doping.
However, some athletes can game the system by administering epitestosterone to make sure their T/E ratio remains balanced. An athlete can do this by simply applying epitestosterone cream to the body. The only thing that can go wrong here is if an athlete applies too much epitestosterone, and it causes an abnormally low T/E score. However, a smart/experienced athlete is unlikely to make a mistake like this.
Conor McGregor is Unusually Heavy
Conor flushes out around 20-25lbs of water in time for each weigh in. So his walk around weight is usually 170-195lbs, depending on what weight division he's competing in.
This is very heavy for a guy that's only 5 ft 8 (7). I'm a bodybuilder at the exact same height as Conor, yet he's pretty much the same weight as me. I've bulked up and gained around 200lbs of combined weight in the last 7 years. As a result, most people would say I'm pretty big for a natty. Yet Conor's exactly the same weight, despite having considerably smaller muscles.
The reason for this could be because steroids make you heavier, as they cause the body to retain intracellular and extracellular fluid.
It doesn't make sense for Conor to be this heavy considering:
- He doesn't train for bodybuilding.
- He's very low in body fat.
- He's 5 ft 8
- He's naturally skinny (an ectomorph)
- He's steroid-free.
This just doesn't add up.
Take away number 5…and now it makes sense to me why he could be on the heavy side.
The evidence suggests that Conor Mcgregor has taken steroids at some point in his fighting career.
The statement analyst concluded that Conor's very likely to have taken steroids in the past, as Conor used an unreliable denial and tried to deflect the conversation when accused. Conor never denied ever taking them, just that he's “not on them”.
Also by not taking steroids, Conor would be extremely disadvantaged if his competition were taking them. Andwe know his opponents are juicing, because Chad Mendes was busted for taking growth hormone (who Conor defeated in July 2015). This gives Conor a strong motive to take steroids, to effectively make it a level playing field. It's also clear that several people in the sport support the belief that “everyone's on steroids”, including Conor himself, Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz and more.
Also the amount of mass Conor's gained since the age of 16 (especially in his shoulders) would point towards steroid-use.
In terms of USADA, it's debatable whether they're corrupt or not. However, it's clear there are major flaws in their testing process, giving steroid-users various platforms to slip through the net.
I believe Conor would've taken testosterone or/and any other substances to boost his test levels. This will enable him to:
- Build muscle
- Become stronger
- Train/fight for longer
- Recover quicker
- Be more aggressive
He also could have used other substances to increase his endurance such as EPO; or compounds to enhance his strength, such as halotestin.
Although it's likely Conor's taken steroids, this isn't to distract or take anything away from his achievements. There's no pill or injection a person can take to make them a champion. Also it's not cheating if everyone in the UFC is taking steroids. He's simply giving himself a fair chance, in order to compete against the best fighters in the world.
“There's no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equal as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that is that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.” – Conor Mcgregor