Nevada to Re-Launch Out-of-Competition Drug Testing for Combat Sports

Steroids in MMA

(Steroids: You’re doing it wrong. Bizarre photo-illustration via SportsNickel)

Last Wednesday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that will provide more funds for out-of-competition steroid testing of MMA fighters, boxers, and kickboxers. The money will come from an existing ticket fee, and will pay for random drug screenings at any time, including training periods. The new law goes into effect July 1st.

Currently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission gets $1 per ticket sold for large MMA/boxing events, and 50 cents for smaller events that gross less than $500,000. Some of that money will now be diverted to year-round testing of performance enhancing drugs, both at a professional and amateur level.

It’s not the first time that Nevada has tried to do this. MMAFighting passes along some history:

Nevada can randomly test any licensed fighter at any time. The state’s commission has had that power since early 2008 but often lacked the funds to employ it. UFC 84 fighters Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn were among the first to be tested out of competition, but within two years, the program was unfunded and unused. By February 2011, the program was out of money after legislators withdrew its funding, effectively rendering it useless as a weapon to catch drug cheats.

Immediately afterward, commission executive director Keith Kizer requested the state find a new source of revenue to fund the program, and the newly signed bill is the compromise.

Keep in mind that funds from the dollar-per-ticket fee won’t lead to a dramatic windfall for the NSAC:

Last year, for example, the UFC held six events in Nevada that drew a total of over 40,000 paid fans. It included four pay-per-view events that drew $1 million-plus gates, and two smaller Ultimate Fighter Finales that drew less than $500,000 each. Those ticket sales resulted in Nevada earning $39,189.50 in fees.

Still, it’ll be enough to keep the program alive, and keep Nevada-licensed fighters somewhat honest. (California has also effectively used out-of-competition testing in the past, as Josh Barnett found out the hard way in 2009.) Anyway, if you’re a fan of healthy fighters and a level playing field, it’s a positive step forward. “Cycling” won’t be as easy to pull off when a little man in a white lab-coat could show up at your gym on any random afternoon, without warning.

Previously: MMA Steroid Busts: The Definitive Timeline