UFC held a press conference on Wednesday to address the issue of performance-enhancing drugs and testing for them. Here’s what went down:
— Lorenzo Fertitta gives a brief overview of how UFC has pushed for more and better testing practices in the past, adding, “Now, we’re making it a point to run towards fixing this PED issue head-on.” In-competition testing, which, again, only covers 12 hours before and after a fight, is good at catching people on PEDs, but out of competition testing needs to do better. Lorenzo believes that more robust testing will have all athletes competing on an even playing field, “by doing so, we will not only be a leader in mixed martial arts, but the world of professional sports.”
— Dana White is here to clear up some issues regarding recent drug test failures by some of the more high profile UFC athletes. When Jon Jones was tested on December 4, which came back positive for cocaine, it was out of competition. His next test, on December 18, also out of competition, was solely a PED test, which was negative. Jon’s post fight test on January 3 tested for both PEDs and recreational drugs, and he was negative on everything. Technically, he was not supposed to have been tested for cocaine on December 4. Regardless, Jon was fined $25,000 for violating the fighter code of conduct, with the money being donated to a charity for children that have been impacted by drug use.
— Anderson Silva was tested out of competition on January 9, the lab didn’t report the results to NSAC until February 3, which is 16 business days later, and three days after UFC 183. That obviously doesn’t help anyone for it being an out of competition test. Dana contends that both NSAC and UFC would never allow a mixed martial artist to participate in a fight if it was known that the fighter was on PEDs before the fight. “No fight, or no one fighter is worth the integrity of this sport.” Silva also tested positive for PEDs in his post-fight test, so he’ll have a full plate to plead before the NSAC during his disciplinary hearing next month.
— Hector Lombard failed his post-fight test on January 3, the results came back on January 13, and UFC pulled him from his upcoming bout in Montreal against Rory MacDonald when that information came out. Dana explains that UFC didn’t announce Hector’s failure because UFC didn’t regulate the testing. The test was performed under the NSAC’s jurisdiction, so it isn’t UFC’s responsibility to announce those results. Dana manages to spin this information into a fight announcement, as Robbie Lawler will defend his UFC weltwerweight title against Rory MacDonald on July 11 in Las Vegas.
— It’s now back to Lorenzo, who breaks down testing data from 2013-14. He states that any time UFC was in charge of regulating the tests, 100% of the fighters were subjected to in-competition testing. The out of competition testing data sample size is small, but Lorenzo says the 19 tests are all that UFC has been able to verify. He’s confident there have been more tests, but he just can’t pinpoint an exact number. Lorenzo goes on to say that the 26.3% failure rate on out of competition testing is alarming, and UFC wants to see more out of competition testing to catch more PED users.
— The Testing Call to Action by UFC is as follows: all fighters are subjected to in-competition testing the night of the fight, and UFC will cover additional costs to facilitate this that the athletic commissions cannot cover. All championship bout and main event fighters will be subject to extensive out of competition testing effective July 1, 2015. Additionally, all fighters on the UFC roster will be subject to random out of competition testing effective July 1, 2015.
— From 2013 to 2014, UFC spent roughly $500,000 on testing expenses. UFC is now prepared to spend “several million dollars for both in and out of competition and random PED drug testing.” In addition to increased testing, UFC is also advocating for longer suspensions and harsher penalties levied against fighters that do test positive for PEDs. UFC wants to adopt the World Anti-Doping Agency’s standard, which is a two-year ban for a first time offense, and if WADA moves to a four-year ban for a first time failure, UFC will fully support that as well. “There has to be harsher penalties to rid the sport of PED usage.”
It will be very interesting to see how the fighters feel about these new stringent testing plans and ultra-harsh penalties. Of course, the ones that complain the loudest are probably going to be the first to get “randomly” selected for out of competition testing.