UFC Scraps Plans for In-House Drug Testing

By McCarton Ackerman 01/06/15

After a highly publicized incident with a middleweight fighter, UFC President Dana White has decided to leave the drug testing to the professionals. 

Andre Durao/ Shutterstock.com

After recently announcing plans for both in-house and year-round drug testing programs for its fighters, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White has announced that the organization will not move forward with either project,

The UFC began talks last August with roughly half a dozen independent testing agencies, who would provide out-of-competition/year round drug testing for more than 500 fighters. However, White said the UFC will now give money to state athletic commissions who can then fund and oversee additional testing.

“What we’ll do is we’ll help fund it so they can do better drug testing, more drug testing. They can handle it. They’re the regulators,” he said. “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.”

White was referring to a highly publicized incident with middleweight fighter Cung Le, who was suspended last August after testing 18 times the limit for human growth hormone (HGH). The UFC oversaw drug testing in that case because Le was fighting at an event in Macau, which doesn’t have a regulatory body. Le was originally suspended for nine months, but it was then extended to a year because of an “error” in the administrative process.

As doubts about the test’s accuracy began to grow and criticism of the unclear appeals process grew louder, Le’s suspension was removed. However, he requested his release from the organization and joined a class-action lawsuit alleging that the UFC participated in anti-competitive practices that hindered fighters. White has expressed regret over the situation and admitted that “we handled it wrong internally.”

Drug use has long been a source of controversy in the UFC. Last May, fighter Chael Sonnen called out the widely speculated drug use of fellow UFC star Wanderlei Silva by declaring that he “literally ran” from drug testing officials prior to a scheduled fight. In June 2013, veteran UFC fighter Paul Kelly was sentenced to 13 years in prison for drug trafficking in the form of co-running a major heroin ring in the U.K.

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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.