CrossFit Games

Four Takeaways From Mathew Fraser’s Interview on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast

March 14, 2021 by
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When Mathew Fraser said “you’ll see more of me after retirement than you ever have before,” over a month ago in his “Why I’m Retiring” letter, little did the community know that he meant that he would be making an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, the most popular podcast in the world, this past Thursday.

In the nearly three hour episode, Rogan and Fraser delved into topics such as his beginnings as an Olympic weightlifter, what drove him to winning five CrossFit Games titles, training and recovery and why he decided to step away from the sport at the peak of his athletic career. Here are four takeaways from the podcast.

No love lost for Dave Castro: Fraser was discussing what motivates him and how certain people were calling his Games performances “flukes” which led to a response from Rogan of “how can anybody say it’s a fluke to win the CrossFit Games, that is literally the dumbest fucking thing.”

  • That prompted Fraser to discuss the infamous “he’s slipping” comment about Fraser by CrossFit General Manager of Sport Dave Castro prior to the 2020 Games.
  • Fraser talked about how he felt Castro’s comments were a huge conflict of interest as the person who runs and programs the workouts for the Games.
  • Fraser then discussed his relationship with Castro saying “I think he just doesn’t like me”.
  • When asked why, Fraser said “everyone just jumps when he says jump and I wasn’t that guy.”
  • Fraser used Castro’s comments as motivation to prove him wrong and chalked it up as just another example of how Castro did not like him that he felt went all the way back to when he started competing at the Games.
  • He cited how he was not invited to be a part of the 2014 CrossFit Invitational team representing the United States as an example of that dislike, even after placing second at the Games that year.
  • “I was all excited to be on this team and go to this competition and they skipped right over me, they took the number one and number three guy, and I’m like ‘what the fuck’. No one ever called me to explain this, nothing. So every year after that they would say ‘hey you’re invited to the Invitational’ and I’m like ‘I’m good, like thanks, I’m still waiting for that invite from 2014.”

Drug-testing within the sport: Rogan often covers performance enhancing drugs when he interviews athletes on his podcast and spent a significant amount of time covering how those drugs play into CrossFit, a topic that Fraser was happy to discuss.

  • Fraser discussed what drug-testing protocols were in place for Games athletes and compared it to those he experienced through his Olympic weight-lifting career.
  • He also talked about how careful he was about even putting prescription drugs into his body, often asking for three different options when he would go see a doctor for a cold. He would then call CrossFit to make sure that he was not taking anything illegal.
  • Fraser was critical of those who did get caught taking performance-enhancing drugs and the excuses they give for their failures.
  • Without saying his name he also cited his suspicions of Ricky Gerard and his performance enhancing use.
  • “The one guy was at the podium at the Games and then got popped. I competed against him six or eight months prior,” said Fraser. “He was snatching 260 or 265 and then shows up to the Games and snatches like 290 and almost hits 300 and he’s like ‘no, no, no, the drugs had nothing to do with it’.

Injuries due to CrossFit: Rogan admitted that he didn’t have much knowledge of the methodology of CrossFit and that most of what he heard was that it caused injuries. Fraser talked about how he was able to remain relatively injury-free through his time as an athlete.

  • Fraser discussed the knee injury he suffered during the 2017 Games as his most serious injury.
  • He also attributed his lack of major injuries to properly recovering and training.
  • Fraser and Rogan discussed the “bad rap” for CrossFit causing injuries coming from people not doing the movements correctly and not having proper coaching and technique.

His short-lived 2019 retirement: During the episode Fraser talked about how he actually wanted to retire after the 2019 Games after his fourth title and he didn’t let anyone know.

  • “I tried to retire a year ago. I tried to retire like after my fourth win.”
  • Unbeknownst to even people in his inner circle he made the decision that he was done after the 2019 Games, a phone call from his coach Shane Orr changed that.
  • I was sitting on the dock, a week after, I was up in my camp and the guy who was coaching me at the time called me and was like ‘hey man how you doing?’ and we were having a nice little chit chat and he’s like ‘what’s your plan, what’s your travel schedule, when do you want to start training?’ and I was like ‘oh, no…no…no…I’m done’, he’s like ‘what?’. I’m like ‘I retired. I’m good. I won four in a row. I’m happy. I’m done.”
  • A phone call from Matt O’Keefe soon followed and he was able to talk Fraser into unretiring in pursuit of his fifth title, telling Fraser that he would “hate himself when you’re 40 if you don’t go for one more.”

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