The news that UFC 174 main event fighter Ali Bagautinov came amidst a bit of a storm surrounding drug problems in the promotion, and more specifically the testing of fighters. Georges St-Pierre cited a plague of users in MMA as part of his reason for vacating the welterweight title, and since that time drug busts in the UFC seem to have soared. Perhaps the estranged champion is having an impact after all.
Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva are possibly the most publicized doping stories of the year, or at least the running from the NSAC as far as 'The Axe Murderer' is concerned. The fiasco set a very bad tone for the UFC in their time of need, as far as big names go, and also within six months of the promotion's global expansion beginning.
With 'Puncher King' getting busted for EPO, and receiving a subsequent 12-month suspension, White gave a statement on Bagautinov's failed test to Yahoo! Sports:
"I'm beyond disappointed. We're not paying lip service to this," White said. "We're trying to clean this up. It's hurting everyone in the sport and we're all over it."
The UFC and commission's new crusade on drug users in combat sports has it's pros and cons; the main being that many great fights have been marred, but also that the sport will eventually gain some legitimacy from the new policies. For the meantime though, every failed drug test is a body blow to the promotion. A squeaky clean image is what is required for the UFC at this stage, and TRT/PED's etc. is the last thing they need to keep sales steady.
So what is the cure for this disease? Women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey feels that the testing is fine, but the penalties aren't harsh enough:
“I think the reason why [fighters] keep trying to test that border is that there is not really that much punishment afterward. You have to pay a little fine and take a year off? People take a year off and go on vacation all the time. That fine costs a vacation, so pretty much, you get the year off without the vacation. I really do think there should be more strict enforcement of the rules, possibly career-ending things like that because if people think they might get away with it, they're going to try. “
A very extreme opinion some might say,but Rousey makes a very succinct point; don't do the crime if you can't do the time, and right now it seems athletes are more than happy to take a year off if they get caught. What's your take on this whole mess?