Steroids in MMA
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Everything You Need to Know About the UFC’s New Drug-Testing Policy

(“Okay Georges, we’ve done everything you’ve asked, now will you please come back? I can only book Lawler vs. Hendricks about 7 more times before people will start to grow restless.” Photo via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

As part of their on-again-off-again-back-on again relationship with year-round, out-of-competition drug testing, the UFC held a press conference yesterday to announce several major changes to their program, as well as further detail the specific punishments and guidelines of this game-changing policy.

The complete rundown is after the jump.

Firstly (and perhaps most importantly) was the UFC’s announcement that it will be partnering with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to both implement and monitor its policies moving forward. As a result of this collaboration, all UFC fighters will be required to alert USADA of their whereabouts at all times, failure of which to do so (or skipping a drug test entirely) constitutes a strike against a fighter, with 3 strikes in a year is the equivalent of a failed drug test. USADA will additionally be granted full control over drug testing procedure, with no input from the UFC.

“If a commission-issued punishment is deemed less harsh than the UFC’s, the UFC-issued punishment will still be implemented as a deterrent.”

Secondly, all UFC athletes will be tested¬†”Unannouced, year-round, in and out of competition testing. Urine and blood testing, any place, any where” on an average of 5.5 times a year. As for the specific punishments, well, BloodyElbow has put together a nice little breakdown:

Punishments for non-specified substances (steroids, HGH, blood doping drugs, etc.)

-To be tested in and out of competition year-round.
1st offense: 2 years (with possibility of 4 years for “aggravating circumstances”)
2nd offense: Double the sanction for the 1st offense
3rd offense: Double the sanction for the 2nd offense

Punishments for specified substances (marijuana, cocaine, other stimulants, etc.)

-To be tested for in-competition only. In competition is defined as 6 hours before the weigh-ins and 6 hours after a fight.
1st offense: 1 year (with possibility of 2 additional years for “aggravating circumstances”)
2nd offense: Double the sanction for the 1st offense
3rd offense: Double the sanction for the 2nd offense

Most notable from this list, other than the possibility of seeing a fighter banned for 4 years for a steroid infraction, is the organization’s newly-defined period that constitutes “in competition” regarding recreational drugs like marijuana –¬†6 hours before the weigh-ins and 6 hours after a fight.

A few other bullet points:

-Any fighter caught with either steroids or recreational drugs in their system are subject to forfeiture of their UFC ranking, belt, and purse or other compensation due to a failed test.

-Results for fighters will also be overturned to DQ losses.

-Any purse, compensation or fine will be put toward the cost of the UFC’s anti-doping program and/or anti-doping research.

-A minimum of 2750 tests per year spread across the entire UFC roster (hence the 5.5 tests/fighter average), which will be administered without advance notice. Testing can include EPO, HGH, blood, urine, and CIR.

-Past failures prior to the new policy will be taken into consideration (under “aggravating circumstances”) when assessing punishments for repeat offenders.

-All fighter tests and locations — that is, location of the tests taken — will be available on the USADA website, searchable by fighter.

And finally, a “whistleblower” line will be made available to fighters to alert USADA to any suspicious activity, be it in their own camps or otherwise.

As we said when the UFC first announced these changes, this is a huge, positive step forward for the legitimacy of our oft-anything but sport. It’s still remains to be seen just how effectively the UFC/USADA will carry this out when the policy rolls out on July 1st. We will have more on this story as it develops.

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