Tom Lawlor claims that he is happy to leave the USADA testing pool following his UFC release.
Lawlor was released by the UFC last week after serving one year and ten months of a two-year USADA ban. Although he admitted he was shocked by the news of his release, he plans to approach his new free agency in an optimistic fashion.
“You mentioned me having some difficult news lately, but I’m not choosing to look at it that way, I’m choosing to look at it as opening the door to many other opportunities that hopefully come my way,” Lawlor told Luke Thomas on the latest episode of The MMA Hour. “I was with the UFC for a long time, and as you mentioned, I had some difficult news, I was let go one week ago today. [It was] some pretty interesting, shocking news to me at least.”
Lawlor admitted that his release came as shock as he had previously requested to part ways with the promotion when he was initially served his suspension by USADA.
“I think it was a combination of [the UFC] getting rid of guys and my age and having not fought in years. It’s unfortunate that the UFC has become such a large company that they don’t look at things on an individual basis, but that’s part of the game I guess, and part of the entertainment business. I just kind of have to take it and roll with it as it goes,” Lawlor said.
“I was kind of shocked as I had asked previously for my release when I was given my USADA suspension, and believe me when I tell you that I did not intend to ingest any sort of ostarine or any performance-enhancing drug. I’m all-natural and I’ve been tested many times since then and passed all of them.”
Lawlor went on to explain why he is happy to leave the USADA testing pool, referencing Josh Barnett’s recent bout with the anti-doping agency as one of the reasons why the system is not completely “fair”.
“I am, however, happy to be out of the USADA testing pool. I don’t have to let them know where I am at all times and wonder about that. Those of you who [are aware of] Josh Barnett’s situation or kept abreast of that can kind of understand that not everything is fair when it comes to USADA and the UFC.”
Although Lawlor agrees that USADA’s involvement with the UFC is supposed to be a force for good, he believes that the organization’s execution of the role is somewhat haphazard.
“Is it supposed to be? Yes,” Lawlor replied when asked if USADA was a force for good within the UFC. “Idealistically, it is [a good thing]. However, in execution, I think a lot of things are slipping through the cracks and I think they have done a lot of things wrong.
“The banned substance list is basically just a list of substances that they don’t want to test, that they don’t want to see in USADA sanctioning. Basically, anything gets put on that list. We get e-mails from USADA, there have been alerts, there has been a ton of information out there about ostarine being spiked in products. If it’s that prevalent, maybe you should do some studies on it instead of suspending people and ruining their lives for two years over it.”
He described how his time spent on the sidelines due to his suspension has been “hell.”
“I was looking forward to fighting, I was in the process of asking for a fight and it took me way off guard. I [had] many sleepless nights, I spent many nights just out the backyard staring into space, wondering how the hell this happened to me. To be honest, for the past two years while I wasn’t able to fight, it’s been miserable for me — it’s been hell, it sucks,” he said.
“It feels like the monkey is off my back. I feel as free as a bird nowadays. I’m a lot happier. I put myself through a lot of stress because of the entire situation because I’m not somebody who was ever going to go out there and intentionally cheat or try to game the system. I was trying to do the best with what I was given and use hard work and dedication and let that pay off.”
He underlined how other athletes’ anti-doping violations are treated differently to his own, citing Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones’ situations with USADA.
“It’s going to really sting when Brock Lesnar comes back and fights for the title. It’s going to really hurt when Jon Jones gets a reduced suspension, but what can I do at this point?” he asked.
“If you look at the banned substance list that USADA has, are you going to tell me that…what was it Brock Lesnar tested positive for…clomiphene…which is a masking agent, something you use when you’re coming off a cycle. Is that worse or better? Is that more performance enhancing than ostarine? Does ostarine deserve a two-year suspension compared to a one-year suspension for that?
“I don’t know what the hell is going with Jon Jones and USADA, but I cannot wait to see the outcome and to see him back headlining Madison Square Garden or something along those lines. It will put things in perspective, it will clarify a lot of things for people when it comes to the drug-testing situation.”
Pondering an ideal anti-doing situation for MMA, Lawlor questioned whether MMA fighters should be tested at all.
“In a perfect case scenario they would have to test every single product that gets put out there and then draw conclusions based on that. Realistically, that’s not going to happen. They just have to go by hearsay and what not. You have to draw the line, it has to be a zero tolerance policy to what they have outlined as bad, or it has to be the Wild West and wide open,” he said.
“We need to be honest about this, mixed martial arts and the UFC, they’re not sport. Let’s be honest, the commissions are not there to uphold the ethics of sport, they’re there to make money. When you look at it as an entertainment property at what point do you say, ‘Maybe we should just get rid of all the testing and let these guys do whatever the hell they want?’ Are [MMA fighters] any different than stuntmen at this point? For the majority of us, what are we as fighters? We’re willing to risk our body and lives for a set of money. Those of us who are doing it as a profession, that’s what we are. We’re essentially stuntmen at that basic level.”
Although he is currently having a lot of success as a professional wrestler, Lawlor insisted that he still wishes to compete in MMA.
“I am more than willing to fight. I’ve heard offers, there have been some mainstream companies that reached out to me as well since the split with UFC. There are some things on the table. I am looking forward to fighting. I would say to ask my training partners at Syndicate MMA if I still have anything left in the tank, but I don’t want them to embarrass me publicly because that could hurt my contract negotiations,” Lawlor said.
“I’ll just say that I have been training nonstop for the last two years, every single day, and I am looking forward to making my return to mixed martial arts and continuing in the squared circle as well.”