Why inhalers are not permitted during MMA competition?

MMA news

Greg Hardy has sparked controversy in the MMA sphere after using an inhaler during his UFC Boston fight. The heavyweight fight against Ben Sosoli was ruled a no-contest because Hardy used an inhaler in between the second and third round.

So why is it that inhalers aren’t allowed during UFC competitions without prior-approval?

Beta-2 Agonists

Inhalers are prohibited because they contain an active ingredient known as vilanterol. The substance is used to dilate the bronchial passages to treat asthma. According to USADA, it is a form of Beta-2 agonists which is a prohibited substance (even by inhalation).

Unfair Advantages

Beta-2 agonists are prohibited because they offer potential unfair advantages:

  • Increased muscle mass and reduced body fat
  • Short-term performance enhancement by increasing plasma volume levels.
  • Masked use of another prohibited substance
  • Distorted values of the athlete’s biological passport

Therapeutic Use Exemption

There are only three Beta-2 agonists which are deemed threshold substances. This means they can be used up to a certain threshold with a specified dose in a specified time frame. Other brands include indacterol, olodaterol, and pirbuterol which are types of Beta-2 agonists. They need to have a TUE approval before they can be used in the sport.

A TUE is exemption for an athlete to use a prohibited substance during the sport. This is for therapeutic purposes only and not as a performance enhancement. The TUE will only be approved if a doctor can provide the failed trial of a permitted alternative. Hardy did not have prior approval to use an inhaler.

The commission is very strict on the use of external products during sports competition. Even a Gatorade can not be ingested by an athlete during the event in case it has been tampered with. Water has to be provided by the commission to prevent the use of performance enhancement drugs. Athlete’s who deliberately violate rules or use a prohibited substance will be punished accordingly.

Greg Hardy Statement

The use of the inhaler at UFC Boston has caused confusion. According to Greg Hardy, his team ensured him they had permission to use it, leading to confusion.

“I was in the ring, me and my coach asked the commission if it would be ok to use my inhaler and they said yes, so I took it.” Greg Hardy explained (via BJ Penn).

“I’m still a new guy in this sport, I did what I do in every situation – I asked permission, I got permission and I did what I was told. In this fight, I wanted to prove I was a fighter. I said before the fight that I wanted to go out and put on a showcase and show the leaps and bounds that I’ve improved by.”

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