Announced today may be the best news in the MMA world in the last decade. UFC President Dana White, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and COO Lawrence Epstein detailed the promotion’s new drug testing policies during a news conference at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas.
From MMA Junkie’s Report, effective on July 1st, all UFC fighters will be subject to random performance-enhancing drug testing. The UFC brass also announced that it will be advocating for longer suspensions and harsher penalties administered by state athletic commissions. The UFC will continue to work with global drug-testing organizations prior to the July 1st date to forge it’s random drug testing protocol. As of this time, it’s not known what third-party organization the UFC will partner with.
“Given the recent spate of high-profile cases, we felt like we needed to do this sooner rather than later,” Fertitta said. “For the good of the sport, for the integrity of the sport, for what we’re trying to do here, we needed to address this issue ASAP.”
“You may be not training at all, but someone may show up to take a random sample,” Fertitta said. “We’re talking to these third-party agencies to see how many tests we need to do to be sure we have a clean sample to be sure our athletes are clean.
Individual commissions will continue to hand down penalties for athletes who fail drug tests with the exception of the UFC’s self-regulated events. Both White and Fertitta expressed an interest to push for harsher penalties for failed tests, which mean that fighters can be suspended as many as four years in some cases.
“We certainly advocate for (a two-year ban). We are committed to it in every way that you possibly could be. There should be no mistake there. This is a call-out to all of the athletes on our roster: You’ll be tested in competition, you’ll be tested out of competition, and if you’re using, you will be caught, and there will be significant penalties that go along with that.” -Fertitta.
“Fighters are going to look at risk vs. reward,” White said. “If I can make a couple million dollars, I’ll take the risk. Two or four years (of suspension) could be career threatening. Now you look at the risk vs. reward, and it’s a lot more dangerous.”
Fertitta also addressed the gravity of the testing and how it may alter the cards of major events,
“If we lose main events, we lose main events,” Fertitta told MMAjunkie. “(Matchmakers) Joe Silva and Sean Shelby are going to have to get just a little more creative.”
“We’ve been working on this a couple years. We’ve been in conversations with third parties for six or seven months,” Fertitta said. “What the Anderson Silva thing prompted us to address the issues and speed up the process. We don’t have the luxury of debating all these points. We’ve got to just go. The results are going to be what the results are going to be.”
The UFC stated that over 79 events, roughly 900 in-competition drug tests were administered to its athletes with 10 fighters testing positive for recreational drugs and 12 testing positive for PED’s. In 19 out-of-competition tests, five fighters came back with positive tests. The UFC also stated that it will commit several million dollars toward in- and out-of-competition testing going forward, reportedly spending approximately $500,000 in 2013-14 on testing expenses.