The UFC has received a lot of criticism in the last few years for its approach on performance-enhancing drug (PED’s) use in MMA but that is about to change as the promotion have revealed they are going to take a major step towards removing PED’s from the sport by implementing random, out-of-competition drug-testing later this year.
UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner told ESPN.com the promotion is in talks with multiple independent drug-testing agencies, such as Voluntary Anti-Doping Association(VADA) and United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and will look to form a partnership with one by the end of 2014 to implement the testing.
“We are meeting with different companies right now and we’re going to have out-of-competition testing,” Ratner said. “We’re not sure when it’s going to start, but we’re working on it right now.
Unannounced blood and urine is going to happen, hopefully in the next three or four months. When you’re talking about 500 fighters, there are a lot of logistics. Having fighters in foreign countries makes it tougher, but we’re coming up with a plan and (agencies) are making proposals to us in the next two weeks.”
As of now, the standard testing for UFC combatants is pre and post-fight urine tests which are carried out by the state athletic commission’s who oversea the event or the promotion itself in certain countries. That form of testing has been slammed for being easy to bypass for fighters using PED’s.
However, recently the UFC has worked with the likes of VADA and the USADA to apply an enhanced drug-testing program for certain high-profile fights. Unfortunately the cost of the the program isn’t cheap, costing over $20,000 for one fighter to be tested alone. But, the success of random testing is undeniable.
Earlier this year the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) implemented random drug-testing for all its major fights. As a result, they have caught out three well known stars in Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
“The UFC will be randomly testing a percentage of fighters,” Ratner said. “When we decide on this regiment, it’s going to be a big cost but it’s well worth it when we do these out-of-competition tests.”
If the UFC does form a partnering with one of the anti-doping agencies it could help to lower the cost of the testing Ratner suggested, although he said a deal has not yet been made and wouldn’t reveal specifics. According to the vice president, the issue has always been a priority for the promotion.
“There are a lot of moving pieces here,” Ratner said. “This issue has always been part of our regiment. We want to make sure there is a level playing field, so we’re going to be testing.”
If this happens, it will be a huge leap forward for the UFC in their efforts to crackdown on PED use in MMA. Lets just hope it gets implemented sooner, rather than later.