UFC Announces Drastically Revised Drug Policy

By McCarton Ackerman 02/26/15

Though some UFC fighters support the new measures, others remain skeptical.

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After several of their top athletes have tested positive for drugs in recent months, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced drastic changes last week to their drug testing program.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and president Dana White announced the changes during a press conference, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 1. Among the new policies are both random and out-of-competition drug testing for every fighter on their roster, as well as stricter punishments for those who test positive. Fertitta declared that he supports following the current World Anti-Doping Agency code that bans first-time offenders for four years.

A reputable third-party will also administer the tests. Fertitta declined to say who that agency will be, but the leading candidates are currently USADA and the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. However, many UFC fans and fighters have expressed reservation about the organization following through.

“If the UFC can implement everything they promised today it'll go a long way to ridding the sport of the PED problem,” wrote Sean Sheehan on Twitter. “Big if, though.”

The organization previously announced plans for in-house drug testing, but officially scrapped those plans last month. White said the UFC will now give money to state athletic commissions who can then fund and oversee additional testing, declaring that “we have no business doing drug testing. We fucked it up, and we will fuck it up again. That’s what the commission is there to do.”

UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey said that she was “extremely encouraged” by the new drug-testing proposal. She revealed that she had spoken directly with UFC officials about a need for revising their drug policies because fighting with PEDs amounted to bringing a “weapon” into the ring.

“It’s unsafe. Someone can get hurt, can die. It’s not like beating a weightlifting world record. It’s another human being [hitting] another human being harder,” said Rousey. “There’s a limit to what a person can take. Once you pass the threshold of what’s natural, then you start to get to another whole level of…these people are taking unnatural levels of punishment, and something bad is going to happen.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.