Cutman Diary: ‘Epinephrine is a PED yet it’s given the blind eye’

By lead writer, Jorden Curran In a series of new ‘Cutman Diary’ articles talks to up-and-coming cutman Liam Bowes (pictured above at the 2017 IMMAF European Open). For near five years the 21-year-old has dedicated himself as a protege of top flight MMA and boxing cutman Joe Clifford, through years of educational courses, event shadowing, hand-wrapping, and most recently, official certification to become an IMMAF certified second for international amateur championships. In addition to serving at the 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships in Bulgaria, Liam was most recently appointed at the professional level to work athlete corners at the BAMMA 30 and ACB 65 events. In recent months has spoken with members of the official IMMAF cuts and hand-wrapping team, including cutwomen Beccy Davies and Jessica Isaacson, to discuss their individual motivations and educational pathway, lead by Joe Clifford. The growing international team remains dedicated to a revolution in their industry with worldwide education into safe practices and all natural treatments with official certification attainable through the international IMMAF courses on offer. “To say that Joseph Clifford is revolutionizing the profession would be to put it lightly,” Liam states. “To work cageside/ringside at any event, especially acting as a first-aider of sorts, you need to be qualified. The IMMAF cutman course is doing exactly that. It is a tiered system that you can gain entry to at a basic level but in order to get to the next level you need to pass actual written and practical examinations as well as have a first aid qualification. It informs you of the correct (and safe) medications to use, I truly think it’s vital to have a progression system for all seconds. It promotes learning and discourages complacency. The day you think you’ve learned everything is the day you should hang up it up.” Liam expressed why he believes the presence of a certified and educated IMMAF cuts team is a mark of progressive development within MMA and does not hold back on some of the ‘primitive’ standards that still exist among cutmen in top flight combat sport, specifically highlighting the use of epinephrine. “The Cutman profession as it stands right now is still very primitive. Cutmen and cutwomen are using medications and treatments that in my opinion are not viable anymore. “The widely-used drug to stop the bleeding of lacerations and epistaxis (nosebleeds) is that of the use of epinephrine (Adrenaline) 1:1000. The epinephrine is applied topically to the wound. The problem with this is that cutmen are not licensed to use it, there is no measurement of dosage, not knowing if your patient (i.e. fighter) has any allergic reactions and, on top of this, it is fact that epinephrine causes tachycardia (faster heart beat). Without a doubt it is a performance enhancing drug, you’re getting a dosage of adrenaline between rounds yet it’s given the blind eye. As little as 1cc of it can cause finger tremors, faster heartbeat etc, and it’s still being widely used on major MMA and boxing events.” manny swabAn article by looks in depth at the use of epinephrine and its suspected use as a stimulant among top flight boxers, their coaches and even filtering down to amateurs with reference to the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey seemingly inhaling the substance between rounds, Pacquiao also having swabs applied to his tongue (pictured) during a bout with Marco Antonio Barrera. Epinephrine is listed as an illegal stimulant per the WADA prohibited list, which states: “Epinephrine (adrenaline): Not prohibited in local administration, e.g. nasal, ophthalmologic, or co-administration with local anaesthetic agents.” Despite this, it maintains widespread use in professional combat sport which is not obliged to follow the WADA code and instead falls under state regulators who have been known to cite that epinephrine is acceptable for the treatment of open lacerations or nosebleeds via a cotton swab applied into the nose.  In compliance with the WADA code, IMMAF’s educational program promotes the use of safe and natural alternatives to epinephrine. Liam added: “There’s plenty of natural treatments. The main ones would be Qwick Aid and nasal wool, both are aligante dressings. We don’t use epinephrine whatsoever, nobody in the the team does, it’s not endorsed at all.” For information on upcoming certification courses contact You can read and subscribe to the IMMAF Newsletter HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *