The UFC revealed a stringent new protocol for testing performance-enhancing drugs during a Wednesday press conference. The promotion hopes to implement the plan by July 1.
“If you are using performance enhancing drugs,” UFC President Dana White declared on a conference call that included Breitbart Sports and other media, “you’re going to get caught.”
The announcement comes on the heels of positive tests for several high-profile performers, including Chael Sonnen, Hector Lombard, and Anderson Silva, and the departure of pay-per-view cash cow Georges St. Pierre in part because of his complaints over the rampant abuse of steroids in the sport.
“UFC will immediately advocate to test every fighter in-competition for every card,” UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta avowed. “We will pay for any additional costs required.” He continued that the “UFC will institute comprehensive, out-of-competition, random testing.” Atop this, the UFC looks to push regulatory bodies for much harsher penalties resulting in fighters sidelined for years for submitting a dirty blood or urine sample.
The promotion notes that the price tag for such testing certainly will run into the millions annually and that may lose main-event fights at the last minute because of a failed test from an athlete.
The UFC explained that during in-competition screening that about 1 percent of its athletes pop positive for recreational drugs and about 1 percent of its athletes pop positive for performance-enhancing drugs. But Fertitta noted that during out-of-competition tests for PEDs, “We know it’s at least twentysomething percent.”
Chief executive officer Lawrence Epstein outlined a few challenges facing the UFC in implementing the ambitious program. He said fighters deserve “due process,” noted the diverse “legal and regulatory landscape” necessitated by numerous athletic commissions coveting exclusive oversight in their regions, pointed out that UFC combatants serve as “independent contractors” and not employees like in the NFL, and finally conceded a “unique logistical situation.” Epstein explained, “We have athletes that live in 45 different countries around the world.”
White and Fertitta argued for local commissions to accept their recommendation of Olympic-length bans of four years for PED malefactors. “The fighters are going to look at the risk versus reward,” White pointed out, noting the current system taking a fight or two from scofflaws. “Two or four years is career threatening. Now you look at the risk versus reward and it’s a lot more dangerous.”
Responding to a question from JT the Brick, Dana White acknowledged that the stakes for letting cheats compete prove greater for fighters than for other athletes. “We’re going to move a lot faster than baseball did,” White promised. “They’re hitting a ball with a stick. Who cares?”