The mixed martial arts (MMA) world was shocked when a report was released a few weeks ago indicating that controversial Brazilian legend Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort had failed yet another drug test in 2012.
Belfort failing a drug test may not be the shocking part, but the fact that this test has just come to light now is slightly more suspicious. The report also indicated that the UFC may have actually covered the test up, as Belfort was still able to go on and fight Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 152.
The promotion has remained relatively quiet regarding such a controversial situation, but a statement was finally released last night (October 3, 2015) at a UFC 192 press-conference (Via Bloody Elbow).
UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler spoke up, claiming that reports of a cover up are “categorically false”. Sholler also stated that the infamous testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT) era, which Belfort seemed to be a poster boy for, was a “tricky” time for everyone involved:
“One of the things to keep in mind in this particular topic is, any suggestion or inference that there is a ‘cover up’ regarding to that, is categorically false,” PR head Dave Sholler said.
“That period of time with TRT, was one that was tricky for everyone, for the UFC, for the athletic commissions, and for the athletes alike,” he explained. “I think when everyone came to a conclusion that it didn’t have a place in the sport, when it was outlawed in 2014, we were quick to make sure that we too followed suit as Nevada had said.”
While many agree that performance-enhancing-drugs have become a problem within the sport of MMA, Sholler confirmed that the UFC is doing everything they can to clean up the sport, including their relatively new partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA):
“As you look at it today, we have signed on with one of the greatest and most stringent anti-doping policies in the world, through USADA. So our positioning on anti-doping in the sport, is the same. We have no place for it in our sport, and we’re going through Jeff Novitzky and the USADA folks to continue to be aggressive and make sure that performance enhancing drugs have no place in the UFC.”
Is the UFC just trying to save face here, or were they really unaware of Belfort’s test?