UFC Scraps Plans For New Random Drug Testing Program

Although the UFC just unveiled plans last October to revolutionize drug testing in MMA with an all-new random testing regime of every fighter, it appears that just one botched incident has resulted in the cancellation of the program basically before it even started.

Speaking at today’s (Fri., January 1, 2014) UFC 182 pre-fight media scrum, UFC President Dana White revealed that the UFC would no longer be involved in out of competition drug testing. Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter tweeted the somewhat shocking announcement just moments ago:

Apparently the UFC will fund commissions for random testing but will deal with the process directly:

According to White, the decision to scrap the in-house random testing came about when the promotion came under fire for botching Cung Le’s failed drug test for human growth hormone (hGH) at last August’s UFC Fight Night 48:

Le, who is now at the frontlines of a massive class action lawsuit against the UFC, was initially given a nine-month suspension that he accepted. However, when UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta pushed for a 12-month ban, Le appealed due to the supposed validity of the testing methods used:

Le won his appeal, and that coerced the UFC to take their hats out of the random testing arena. It can only be considered as absolutely horrible news for the sport of MMA, however, as steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have undoubtedly cast a massive black eye on the sport of MMA for years now.

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With relaxed (only in competition) drug testing in place, it’s unclear as to just how effective the UFC’s funding of athletic commissions’ random testing will actually be.

The UFC may have avoided some sticky situations by scrapping plans, but reforming drug testing in MMA was never going to be an easy task in any sense.

Fighters who were worried about random testing can now conceivably go back to using PEDs while they don’t have a fight scheduled for the foreseeable future, and the failures will continue to paint the UFC and MMA as a whole in a bad light.

When testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) was banned in February 2014 and random testing was about to be implemented, it looked like MMA was finally getting cleaned up a bit.

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Now, the future of testing is up in the air, and that’s not a good thing. Will the UFC’s decision to withdraw from handling random testing create a roadblock for MMA becoming a truly mainstream sport?