(All natural, bro, all natural. Pic: GoodmenProject)
We told you last weekend there seemed to be some confusion about who was doing the drug testing at UFC 129, after the Ontario Athletic Commission admitted it didn’t oversee any prefight screening and the UFC had to reportedly take matters in hand by hiring an independent lab to do the work. For a variety of reasons – financial and otherwise — it’s obviously problematic when the only drug testing done at a major sporting event is overseen by the promotion itself. Especially when the president of said promotion consistently tells the media his organization is powerless against “the government” in nearly all PED-related issues.
Now, here’s a new reason to raise our eyebrows, as just prior to UFC 129 the head of the renowned US Anti-Doping Agency went on record to call drug testing in MMA “horrific” and say it’s “a joke” that promoters “claim they are trying to protect their sport with WADA (compliant) policies.” That’s World Anti-Doping Agency, for those of you keeping score, pretty much the gold standard in the drug-testing world. USADA chief Travis Tygart told Reuters recently that his organization — which oversees America’s Olympic-level testing — has no involvement in the UFC’s drug policies and called the current system employed by promoters and government athletic commissions “woefully inadequate.”
His quotes, scathing as they are, are after the jump …
“(Promoters) want, for public relation and marketing reasons, to say they have something that makes them look better than they truly are …,” Tygart said. “They’re trying to pull a fast one here.”
It should be noted that UFC-administered testing can’t be all bad, since it snared Chris Leben for taking steroids prior to his UFC 89 bout with Michael Bisping in England and that Leben served a UFC-imposed nine-month suspension for his crime. This past weekend UFC Director of Canadian Operations Tom Wright told Reuters the testing for the gala UFC 129 show was overseen by the Quebec Athletic Commission and the tests themselves analyzed at a WADA-accredited lab in Montreal.
So that sounds all on the up-and-up. In addition, we should mention that it’s good the UFC takes it upon itself to do any sort of testing at all, since most fans wouldn’t give a rip either way. Still, it sounds like it’s not even close to good enough for Tygart. The Reuters story actually makes the charge here that “lawyers for mixed martial arts” (which we assume means UFC lawyers) recently appeared in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to “argue against beefing up anti-doping efforts with blood testing.”
“Not only are they not WADA Code compliant they have fought tooth and nail not to have any principles of the WADA Code …,” Tygart said. “Make no mistake, rules that apply to UFC in the states are horrific in comparison to the WADA Code.”
When contacted by the news organization, White stayed very close to his usual script about “the government” and “regulation” and essentially implied that the UFC has to leave testing up to much higher powers.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is we are regulated by the government,” White said. “The government oversees what we do and the government comes in and drug tests these guys … If you get caught using steroids these days you seriously have to be a moron.”
Interesting choice of words there from the man in charge. You’re a moron if you get caught …
Anyway, the whole thing is a sticky issue we honestly feel torn about. On one hand as we said above, it’s good that the UFC does its own testing for shows where no other testing is available. On the other hand, the fact that it is able to do that pretty much proves if the company were 100 percent committed to ridding MMA of performance enhancers it’s certainly capable of conducting its own independent testing, above and beyond what is already done by the commissions.