The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has come under fire this week for supposedly granting therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to boxer Floyd Mayweather for a banned IV and UFC heavyweight Frank Mir for ADHD medication Adderall.
As the UFC’s partner in their enhanced and ongoing battle in drug use in mixed martial arts (MMA), the findings were understandably concerning, especially in the case of Mir, where the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) reportedly stepped in to deny the longtime veteran his TUE.
Enlisted to spearhead the UFC’s anti-doping efforts, UFC drug czar Jeff Novitzky is here to say that those reports simply are not true. Speaking to Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com, Novitzky clarified that Mir had indeed been granted a TUE for Adderall by USADA, and sought to do the same with the NAC but did not have enough time to complete the request before his UFC 191 fight with Andrei Arlovski. Novitzky refuted the report that USADA’s decision had been overturned by the NAC:
“They indicated to us that there was not enough time for him to put one in,” Novitzky said. “So, there’s been some inaccurate reporting in the media that Mir has had a TUE declined by the Nevada commission.
That’s completely inaccurate. Frank never submitted a TUE through Nevada. Instead, he was told by me personally as soon as we knew there wasn’t enough time in Nevada that you’re not gonna have permission by Nevada to take this prohibited substance in the fight and you should discontinue it immediately. He indicated that he did so.”
The original report said that Mir had stopped taking Adderall when his USADA TUE was overturned by the NAC, but apparently he was simply told to stop using it by Novitzky himself when it became apparent he would not have time to receive an exemption from the NAC.
News came yesterday from the Los Angeles Times’ Lance Pugmire that NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett had overturned Mir’s USADA TUE because the testing agency was ‘confusing fighters,’ but the facts have now been cleared up. Still, although he wouldn’t get into specifics about Mir’s situation when questioned by MMA Fighting, Bennett did insist that all fighters looking to use banned substances would have to go through the NAC regardless of USADA’s decision, something that is not negotiable:
“It’s really non-negotiable. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is the only body that can authorize a therapeutic use exemption in the state of Nevada.
“They must fill out our paperwork, provide us with the documentation from their doctors in support of their TUEs and then it will go to our doctor and our doctor will make that determination.”
With that in the clear, Novitzky went on to explain the process of fighters receiving TUEs under the new anti-doping efforts, which will remain confidential due to private medical records being involved. All TUE-related info will remain unknown, and the only reason Mir’s situation was discussed in the media was because he gave permission to do so.
Under the new guidelines, USADA will have a panel of medical experts review the request based on a fighter’s medical records and determine if the substance will help the athlete only return to normal level without receiving any performance benefit whatsoever. All diagnoses and information will obviously have to be supported by medical evidence and records.
But they’re still going to have to be approved by the NAC if they want to receive a TUE for a banned substance in the state of Nevada, something that has caused a bit of confusion over the past two days.
And while USADA has fallen under criticism for their handling of Mir’s Adderall TUE and the false denial of that exemption by the NAC, Novitzky remained firm in his stance that the UFC would not stop using the agency in their continued efforts to root out drug use in MMA:
“Based on 15 years of working with them and seeing how they make decisions and seeing how those decisions are ethical and how every single time they adhere to carrying out the WADA code, I have 100 percent confidence that we have enlisted the gold standard, best anti-doping agency in the world and all of our athletes should have that same trust and confidence,” Novitzky said. “I haven’t lost any of that in USADA. They’re the best.”