Greg Hardy Inhaler-Gate Raises Questions About MMA Rulebook

For someone who’s barely a half dozen fights into his pro MMA career, Greg Hardy is having a rough run in the UFC. The NFL player turned fighter had an especially rough night yesterday in Boston, when his UFC victory over heavyweight Ben Sosoli was overturned and ruled a “no contest” due to….using a rescue inhaler.

Between the second and third round, Hardy—who reports a lifetime of exercise-induced asthma—utilizes a prescribed inhaler while resting in his corner. Hardy explained to reporters after the no-contest ruling that he’d confirmed with the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission official in the octagon if he could use the whiffer, which the official indicated was within the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s “okay” list of drugs.

But it wasn’t okay. USADA does not allow ventolin albuterol, the drug found in the inhaler, viewing it as a PED even in cases of exercise induced respiratory issues. The ruling, perhaps rightfully, baffled Hardy and even fans.

“I used it my whole life,” said Hardy after the fight, going on to underscore that he is NOT a drug abuser. “I sign the commission paperwork when I weighed in. It’s on the USADA paperwork when I take every single drug test so that y’all know that I’m not taking steroids.” To be clear, albuterol is a “rescue drug,” a non-steroid prescription which reduces acute respiratory distress. Hardy explained in his post-fight interview that it stops his diaphragm from constricting his breathing during attacks, allowing him to inhale and exhale like an average person. It is not generally perceived as a performance-enhancing substance by anyone, as viewers were quick to point out.

UFC President also found the whole event baffling, though for different reasons than Hardy and fans. He ultimately blames Hardy’s coach, Din Thomas, for the heartbreaking judges ruling.

“Come on, Din. You’ve been in this game forever!” said White. “His corner, they’ve got to know you can’t use an inhaler in the corner. They should know that. Shouldn’t even be a question. You can drink water. It’s pretty simple.”

The no contest is likely to raise further questions about limiting the use of rescue drugs for fighters with potentially life-threatening health conditions when they’re engaged in an life-threatening activity as it is. Though one Twitter user may have summed up the ruling, and the logic behind denying inhaled use, better than anyone else in a single sentence:

What do you think? Should inhalers be okay in between rounds for documented asthmatics, or is this a good fit for the “if he dies, he dies” principle?


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