New Jersey's Nick Lembo Responds to Nevada TRT Ban

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterFebruary 28, 2014

Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, fighter Vitor Belfort, from Brazil, gestures to fans as he weighs-in ahead of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC, 142 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. Belfort will face Anthony Johnson, from the U.S., Friday. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Felipe Dana/Associated Press

The Nevada Athletic Commission's Thursday decision to issue an immediate ban on the usage of testosterone replacement therapy is expected to have wide-ranging effects on the combat sports world.

As one of the more prominent athletic commissions in the world, Nevada is often seen as a role model for other state commissions. They set the standard, and everyone else follows.

We're already seeing this effect with the TRT ban. After the NAC decision was made official, the Ultimate Fighting Championship immediately said they would be banning TRT on international events where they serve as their own commissioning body. On Friday, the Brazilian athletic commission (CABMMA) followed suit, banning usage going forward. Veteran Dan Henderson is the final TRT exemption that will be honored by that commission.

New Jersey athletic commission director Nick Lembo released a statement to veteran journalist Jim Genia detailing his commission's history with TRT:

Since January 1, 2008, NJ has had 4,930 MMA contestants compete in agency regulated bouts.

The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has only granted one initial TRT therapeutic use exemption of those 4,930 MMA contestants. That one exemption was subsequently revoked when that individual failed an agency required random monitoring test several months subsequent to his NJ bout contest date.

The NJSACB has also honored exemptions to two of the 4,930 MMA contestants based on exemptions originally granted in multiple other jurisdictions and after additional testing and board certified endocrinologist documentation was supplied.

The NJSACB has refused TRT exemptions to over a dozen applicant contestants.

In addition, the NJSACB has never granted a TUE for TRT to any of the multitude of professional boxers, Thai fighters or kick boxers subject to its purview.

At this juncture, the NJSACB will continue to adhere to the very strict International Olympic Committee therapeutic use exemption standards.

As you can see from the numbers above, New Jersey is quite strict when it comes to issuing TRT exemptions. They've had nearly 5,000 licensed fighters in the state and have only handed out one TRT exemption, which was then revoked. They have also honored two exemptions from other states that met their criteria.

Compare that number to Nevada, which has issued six exemptions: Dan Henderson (the first fighter to receive an exemption), Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Todd Duffee, Shane Roller and Forrest Griffin.

Dan Henderson was the first fighter to receive TRT exemption.
Dan Henderson was the first fighter to receive TRT exemption.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press/Associated Press

A quick look at the numbers will tell you that New Jersey is one of the leaders when it comes to strict governing of TRT exemptions. Lembo told Genia that he'll give consideration to Nevada's TRT policy but didn't offer any indication that New Jersey will follow suit with an outright ban for all competitors:

That being said, we will consider Nevada's decision and look forward to discussing how to handle the rare candidate who indeed has a true legitimate medical reason for usage. As examples, an individual returning from military duty who has suffered testicular malfunction from an IED explosion, those with pituitary gigantism, testicular cancer survivors and transgender contestants.

It appears that not all states will immediately move to ban TRT the way Nevada did. But given Lembo and the New Jersey commission's history with TRT, it's safe to say the controversial "treatment" will be monitored closely and handled with care.