Steroids, juice, PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), anabolic, Barry Bonds; all terms used to describe one thing, cheating. The UFC is no stranger to this wave of drug cheats in MMA (mixed martial arts) and their new stricter drug testing policies have already started to yield massive results. The collateral damage caused may be a high price to pay when guys like Aderson Silva and Jon Jones (albeit for cocaine) fall foul of a doping screen, but it’s a small sacrafice in the big picture.
The target of 2.75 drug tests per year for each athlete will likely keep the clean guys clean, but what about fighters who will simply try and find new ways of beating the USADA (United States Doping Agency) screens? As Dan Henderson recently said, as drug testing evolves so too will steroids, and these cheaters will simply find new ways to cheat.
Quite t the contrary, it seems that Jeff Novitzky, the UFC VP of Athlete Health & Performance, has taken these concerns in to account, and plans on ‘sniffing out’ these fouling fighters with intelligent drug testing, as opposed to random screens. Check out what Novitzky told Joe Rogan, as transcribed by MMAJunkie:
“It’s not random testing; it’s intelligent testing, USADA’s not going to say, ‘Hey, we’re going roll the dice and whoever comes up …’ They’re going to look on everything, from tips that they may get – hell, they’ll even look at physical appearances of athletes. Does this athlete pass kind of the physical appearance ‘smell test,’ and if they don’t, hey, maybe we need to test that person a little bit more.”
Of course this is not to say that the bigger and more ripped athletes are going to be caught out, as they may just be training better than everyone else. As Novitzky details, this may only result in a few extra guys getting caught per year, and he plans on testing the more meathead-looking suspects up to 10-12 times in a year:
“This is strictly another tool to be used,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that an athlete who doesn’t pass the smell test will test positive, but a lot of times, it does. All is means is a test. It doesn’t mean a person is positive because you look like you did. But hey, maybe an extra test or two.
“If I was that athlete, that freak, I would be like, ‘Hey, test me more, because people are accusing me of it, so it will be cool at the end of the year, everybody will look at my stats on the webpage and I was tested 10 times and no positive tests.’”
Novitzky is no stranger to this type of deception and, as a former IRS investigator who also aided in bringing down the notorious steroid scandal in baseball, he tells that MMA is not unique to the world of dopers.
“I’ve seen very pervasive use in other sports, so I don’t think it’s unique to MMA,” he said. “What is unique is the importance of it, and it isn’t hitting a ball with a stick. This is two human beings getting into the octagon and trying to make the other submit by inflicting pain. (Enhanced testing) could hurt the UFC, but in terms of long-term and short-term health and safety of their athletes, this speaks volumes, what they’re doing.”
We might as well start taking bets on which fighter will be busted next, because we can expect a big haul of pops over the coming 12 months at least. Also, with the new ability to access all f USADA’s drug test stats after October 1st, there’s be nowhere to run or hide, and potentially nowhere to fight for drug cheaters in MMA.
So, who’s your money on?