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Chief of US Anti-Doping Agency Calls MMA Drug Testing ‘Horrific’ and ‘a Joke’

(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.

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realfighterfan- March 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Come on people none of these labs in Canada or U.S even test for the most abused PED's like EPO's, HGH, synthetic testosterone. basically a waste of time and only fighters that will ever be busted are the lower paid POOR fighters who still have to use the stanzonols, Nandrolones(DECA), and all the WEALTHY fighters know they can continue to use all theseexpensive peds and Victor Conte's designer class of steroids that are undetectable under this lower end low budget type testing currently being used by all the althetic cimmissions in U.S. and Canada.

wealthier the athlete the more substances taht are available for them to CHEAT with
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MitchDeCoste- May 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm
I think if we can't make sure everyone isn't juicing, than they all should be allowed to juice. Or not test at all.
darciesdaddy- May 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm
All your piss are belong to us.
fretwork- May 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
odd that the USADA is picking on MMA and not mentioning the “woefully inadequate” testing og MLB, the NFL, etc etc.
.......
why are they going after the promotions (UFC) and not the state-run athletic commissions?
.......
they are just looking for addtional revenue streams, and this is one way of beating the grass to scare the snakes.
.......
pretty lame.
Pen Fifteen- May 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm
Really, this guy's rhetoric is disgusting. "Horrific" is a term you can use to describe genocide, not someone cheating to win a cage fight.
Pen Fifteen- May 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm
@Kid Klam
I had a college teammate who was a world-class decathlete, and yes, the way you describe it is pretty much how WADA testing protocols work. Jackasses like this Tygart guy act like they're 'preserving the integrity of athletic competition,' when in reality, WADA is just another power-hungry bureaucracy. I'm all for drug testing, but there have to be reasonable limits. You're never going to catch all the cheaters, and acting like that is a reasonable goal is completely idiotic.
RwilsonR- May 6, 2011 at 11:33 am
Tristan is correct. WADA may not be a private company, but they are much worse - they are bureaucrats trying to justify their bureaucracy and jobs by forcing everyone into their unreasonable compliance. I'm sure the UFC could do a better job of testing, as could the athletic commissions. But I could care less what this WADA dipshit has to say.
rearnakedchickenchoke- May 6, 2011 at 11:28 am
I'm pretty sure you could just get any old jackass to give them a backne screen and that should suffice.
jayray- May 6, 2011 at 10:37 am
@tristan

couldnt agree with you more. Is this point so obvious that CP felt no need to address it? It might have given this article more depth. Not that I come here for in-depth reporting but it would have been an interesting angle to explore.
layzboybc- May 6, 2011 at 10:18 am
Dana's answer is obviously ridiculous there is noway the government would tell a company you can only do the testing we conduct any further drug testing would be against our policies (sounds a little far fetched). I think what Dana is trying to say is listen were doing what the government asks of us nothing more nothing less. Its also obvious that the laws change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction the laws here in the US are different then those in Australia & Germany and wherever else the UFC holds its events.
dwmwtv- May 6, 2011 at 9:51 am
I'm in your organizationz testing your dudez for horsemeat.
Tristan- May 6, 2011 at 9:44 am
Wow, the guy whose private anti-doping orginazation the UFC doesn't use doesn't like the UFC not using his private anti-doping organization? Stop the presses!
Kid Clam Curtains- May 6, 2011 at 9:44 am
Don't WADA rules include having to notify the WADA any time you leave the house...every single day of the year? You have a "minder" that shows up on your doorstep whenever he feels like it to draw your blood and if you're not there, you're fucked. I think i saw this on an episode of Real Sports. Correct me if I'm wrong here.

I'm all for blood testing in MMA but the WADA rules are insanely stringent...and expensive.
ExpectJesusBro- May 6, 2011 at 9:40 am
Wonder how Leben feels about pretty much being called a moron by the big man there...
ExpectJesusBro- May 6, 2011 at 9:39 am
"Your a moron, if you get caught.." Yeah, that's exactly how I read it, too.
ExpectJesusBro- May 6, 2011 at 9:37 am
Wowser, Dana. How does it feel to get punched in the dick? Your rethorical answer is getting a bit old. Only one more use left, or your banned from my facebook...
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