by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
ProElite, Inc. on Wednesday announced that its British fight promotion, Cage Rage, would soon begin drug testing its fighters.
Starting with the Dec. 1 “EliteXC Presents Cage Rage 24” event, any fighter will be subject to random drug testing, which includes checking for anabolic steroids, stimulants, marijuana and cocaine. All fighters in world title fights will be tested.
In light of the announcement, MMAWeekly U.K. correspondent Lee Whitehead caught up with Cage Rage promoter Dave O’Donnell to discuss the controversial subject.
MMAWeekly: When is Cage Rage going to commence testing and what will the process entail?
Dave O’Donnell: We are looking at commencing the drug testing program in line with Cage Rage 24: Feel the Pain on Dec. 1, 2007, and are aiming to undertake full blood and brain scans in conjunction with the drug tests by the middle of next year.
MMAWeekly: Can you tell us if the tests will be solely for steroids or will they encompass diuretics and recreational drugs as well?
O’Donnell: At this stage, steroids are the main concern because they have the greatest effect on the fighters health, but ultimately we want to ensure all fighters competing are clean of any external substances.
MMAWeekly: Can you elaborate on how you plan on implementing this process?
O’Donnell: Title fights will definitely be tested and we will probably test a selection of fighters “out of the hat” as well, maybe even just decide to do all of the fighters on the card in one go if it is more cost effective.
MMAWeekly: Robbie Olivier and Abdul Mohammed have the lightweight title on the line, can you confirm if Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua will be a title fight and therefore be subject to testing?
O’Donnell: We don’t know how that will work yet as, obviously, Anderson Silva has vacated due to contractual commitments elsewhere. If it is not a title fight, it could be a title eliminator. We will have to see, but they could be random names in the test.
MMAWeekly: Looking at the testing start date, Cage Rage Contenders Wales will be unaffected; will you be testing at other Contenders shows?
O’Donnell: It’s all down to costs. The main priority is getting the process started and that will happen at Cage Rage 24. When it will come on board with Contenders, I don’t know. But we want to ensure the safety of the fighters, so when it becomes viable, it will happen.
MMAWeekly: When will testing take place for Cage Rage 24?
O’Donnell: Most likely during the weigh-ins. Obviously this means that results will come back after the fights, just like it does in the U.S., and from there penalties will be dealt with accordingly.
MMAWeekly: Who is going to oversee the testing in order to ensure impartiality?
O’Donnell: When we have selected the appropriate medical body, it will be out of our hands and become a strict medical matter. They will take the samples, test and label accordingly. We will only see the results and then act on them if positive.
MMAWeekly: How long has this been in the works? And is it something ProElite has pushed for?
O’Donnell: We have always been looking to do something similar, but now we have more resources. They have to test in the States anyway. It was only going to be a matter of time before things happened here and that time is Dec. 1.
MMAWeekly: How will this impact the smaller shows?
O’Donnell: At some point it will, but for the moment costs will be prohibitive. I mean it costs on average £150 (about $300 U.S.) to test a fighter. Across a whole card, that’s out of a small show’s range and is the difference between making a small profit or a big loss. What will need to happen is that maybe we all start adopting a tax-based system of £1 per ticket sold to fund testing. At 2000 people attending, that covers your outlay. But it will only start when it’s viable to do so.
From a fighters point of view, I am sure they will be reassured knowing their opponent would be clear of possible infections such as hepatitis and AIDS as well as other infections, let alone facing someone benefiting from pharmaceutical enhancements.
MMAWeekly: This is a positive step forward for the legitimacy of the sport; what are your closing thoughts on it?
O’Donnell: That all fighters on the Dec. 1 card that are tested come back clean!