Jeff Novitzky, UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, is an anti-doping expert. He was brought on by the fight promotion in April 2015 to ensure UFC athletes were competing on a level playing field without performance enhancing substances.
“I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport. I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes,” said Novitzky when he was brought on by the organization.
A press release put out by the fight promotion about Novitzky coming on board in 2015 laid out his extensive experience.
“He has been a federal agent for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008, led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids. Prior to joining the USFDA, Novitzky was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service in their Criminal Investigation Department, where he oversaw and investigated some of the highest-profile performance enhancing drug (PED) cases in professional sports,” read the UFC statement.
On Wednesday, Novitzky weighed in on the process light heavyweight champion Jon Jones faces after allegedly failing a pre-fight drug test for the second time in his career prior to his rematch against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on July 29.
“My understanding is the sample was collected in the hours after the weigh-ins, so that would put him in an in-competition period under the program,” said Novitzky during a media scrum at the UFC Training Center.
“USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) is the independent administrator of our program and is working very closely with the California Athletic Commission. They retain jurisdiction over this matter,” he said.
The fight promotion used to police itself with regard to testing for performance enhancing use by its athletes, but sought an independent body to do the testing in 2015 to eliminate any perception of a conflict of interest.
“The beautiful thing about our program is the UFC is not policing ourselves. That was the reason we went to USADA. The reason that we did that is so our athletes could have trust in the system,” said Novitzky.
The positive test was the second time Jones has been flagged for an anti-doping violation. In the days immediately before his scheduled rematch with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200, it was revealed that Jones had tested positive to banned substances. He maintains that the positive test result was a result of ingesting a sex pill.
“Jon definitely has one penalty under the system, so the second penalty, if it were to come to that, would basically double the first,” he explained.
“For a specified substance, which are your non-steroid substances, those would usually be a year (suspension) the first time. So it would be two years for the second offense,” he added. “The non-specified (substances), which would include your harder substances: steroids, growth hormones, blood doping products, the first time would be two years and the second time could be a potential four years.”
A positive test result doesn’t automatically mean guilt. There’s a process. Jones submitted two samples prior to the bout and the second sample hasn’t likely been tested and compared to the first sample yet.
“Jon is afforded due process,” said Novitzky. “The B sample wouldn’t have been tested already. But I can tell you this, when a WADA (Wold Anti-Doping Agency) accredited lab makes an announcement of a positive test of a substance in that athlete’s body, the substance 99.999-percent of the time is in that athlete’s body. They do some confirmatory testing on even the A sample.”