UFC Plans Random Drug Testing and Pushes for Two-to-Four-Year Bans

February 18, 2015
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Jon Jones tests positive for cocaine. Anderson Silva tests positive for steroids. Hector Lombard tests positive for steroids. When is enough going to be enough? Apparently now.

There are still a lot of moving parts to put in place, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday announced its new approach to drug testing, which it believes will help reduce the number of UFC athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.

Citing an “alarming rate” of 26.3 percent for UFC fighters testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in verified out-of-competition drug tests, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta unveiled the general plans for the UFC to increase its support of the drug testing process.

“Something needs to be done to increase the amount of out-of-competition testing,” said Fertitta, before laying out the UFC’s plan to help increase testing and to push for more severe penalties for fighters that are caught.

SEE ALSO: Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz Fail Drug Tests

“The UFC will immediately advocate to all commissions to test every fighter in competition from every card. We want 100-percent of the fighters tested the night that they compete in competition. And if there is any cost associated with that that’s outside of any state or federation’s budget, we will pay for any additional cost required,” said Fertitta.

Anderson Silva and Dana WhiteThat would be slightly less than 1,000 tests annually based on UFC plans for 41 events per calendar year with 12 bouts on each card. The number would obviously adjust up or down depending on how many events are held and the number of fights on each card.

“In addition to that, the UFC in conjunction with local athletic commissions will subject all main event and championship bout fighters to enhanced out-of-competition PED testing effective July 1, 2015,” he continued.

“Given that, we assume there will be approximately 96 marquee fighters tested on an annual basis, once again, given the assumption of 41 fight cards. We also assume that of the 13 premier events or pay-per-view events, eight of those will have double championship bouts. That’s how we get to that number.”

While that may sound tough on the surface, it has long been known from the patter of drug abuse in other sports, that when an athlete is aware when they will be subject to testing, he or she can often find a way to skirt around getting caught.

Just ask disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who suffered an extremely public fall from grace recently after years of dodging tests and authorities.

What the UFC hopes will add some heft to its push to reduce performance-enhancing drug use is random out-of-competition testing and making a strong push for much stiffer penalties than are currently in place.

“All UFC fighters will be subject to (random PED testing) effective July 1, 2015. That means approximately 585 of the fighters on the roster, which fluctuates on a week-to-week basis. They will be subject to testing by an independent third party, using (World Anti-Doping Agency) testing standards,” according to Fertitta.

SEE ALSO: Jon Jones Tests Positive for Cocaine

That means whether a fighter has a bout scheduled or not, no matter the circumstance, he or she is subject to having a tester come knocking on the door to collect a sample.

What Fertitta believes will be the final piece to the puzzle, however, is increased penalties.

Currently, a first-time PEDs offender, depending upon the regulations in whatever jurisdiction an event is being held, faces anywhere from a six to twelve month penalty, which is usually coupled with a fine and the requirement to provide a clean test result upon re-applying for a license to fight.

Under the WADA code, as of Jan. 1, 2015, the penalty for an intentional first-time doper increased from the past standard of a two-year ban to four years. An athlete guilty of inadvertent doping gets a two-year ban, which can be reduced if they have “substantial proof that they were not at fault or intending to cheat.”

Fertitta said on Wednesday that the UFC stands in support of the WADA code, and believes a two- or four-year ban would go a long way towards deterring fighters from taking the risk of doping.

“Maybe most importantly, in ridding our sport of PED usage, we are advocating for longer suspensions and harsher penalties issued by state athletic commissions, international federations, whatever body is handing down penalties,” said Fertitta.

“Currently, I believe that the WADA standard on a first-time offender for PED use is a two-year ban. We certainly advocate for that. We understand that WADA is either contemplating or will institute a first-time offender a four-year ban. We will absolutely support that as well.

“There has to be harsher penalties to rid the sport of PED usage.”

Fertitta and UFC General Counsel Lawrence Epstein explained that the fight promotion would not be entering into the business of drug testing. They intend to spend millions of dollars to help support the various governing bodies in their testing efforts, and will be contracting a third party organization to handle the UFC’s random drug testing program.

They are still in negotiations with various parties, but Fertitta stated that it would be a leading global organization that already handles this type of testing that the promotion eventually uses.

“We have been and are currently engaged in talks with numerous reputable global drug testing organizations to create this random drug testing protocol. We’re confident we can have it in place by July 1, 2015.”

Even though July 1 is the UFC’s target date, globally, it faces an uphill battle, especially when it comes to increasing penalties.

Implementing the drug testing plans is largely a matter of organization and money, putting the pieces in place, but increasing penalties requires the UFC to work with any number of global entities not only to get support for the move, but also to possibly have to change statutes and regulations.

The UFC has been down this road before, however, in trying to get the sport legalized and sanctioned across the globe. Fertitta says he is willing to put forth the same effort, despite numerous hurdles, to try and clean up the PEDs epidemic the UFC and other promoters are currently facing.

“This should definitely be a callout to all the athletes that are on our roster that you will be tested in-competition, you will be tested out-of-competition, and if you are using performance-enhancing drugs, you will be caught and there will be significant penalties that will go along with that.”

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  • monkey

    GSP??? Are you coming back now?

  • Sir_Roy

    About time. Heck of a good start in any event.

  • It’s about time.
    The future of MMA is not in a roid freak show. Cheaters need to start worrying.

    • Seth

      Im pretty sure Belfort isn’t worrying one bit.

      • If he ever gets his shot, Vitor will show up clean.
        Let’s see how good he is without his crutch.

        • Seth

          All they delay is in his favor anyway. If they would fight 3-4 months after banning TRT, he would get blasted inside 60 seconds. Now he may be able to survive entire round 1, but he demolished his own body with PEDs in the past and now TRT – 100% guaranteed we won’t see the same Vitor who juiced up to the limits blasted Rockhold or smashed Hendo.

          It’s time for next cheater to receive award for what he did – and it serves him right to get KTFO for all he did.

  • Don Lee

    So much for Cyborg’s potential UFC career….

  • monkey


  • monkey

    Lorenzo ‘nose’ faggitta

  • monkey

    I will believe it when I see it. Lorenzo ‘nose’ Faggitta is spewing shat out his k0k sucker. I think he has a personality disorder or something. He needs random testing himself. The UFC is a fraud until they prove me wrong

    • Seth

      Funny thing is, that they don’t have to prove a damn thing to you… o:

    • Groinstrike

      Yeah Yeah. While you are here laughing at him he’s probably getting blown by a dozen hot women.

  • drkdisciple

    The way things seem to work in the ufc a two year ban will probably be for the prelim guys. Champions and top contenders will probably get 6 months.

    • Seth

      Nah, they will get a hug and help to “get their life straight”. JBJ was first one, then Anderson followed with UFC “waiting for Comission’s decision” and Nick getting no penalty from UFC. Being a draw in UFC = being untouchable. That has to change first.

      • Groinstrike

        I’m kind of scratching my head here. Most suspensions are handed down by the commissions. The UFC isn’t being any different than any other sport. I mean you guys do realize that right?

        • Seth

          Well, but you don’t hear from UFC “Lets wait for B samples” when its prelim fighter. Besides, UFC hands their suspension too for violating their internal rules (Like they did to Mitrione, for transgender jokes) and Im pretty sure using PEDs is also violation of UFCs internal rules, so they have all the right to punish people they hire for not following their rules.

          • marrk_us

            And THAT is the key to the ufc’s future. If someone, including a headliner gets caught and a commission gives them a 6-12 month suspension what happens? Does the ufc actually step up to the plate and punish them via internal rules with a 2-4 year ban or terminate their contract and allow them to go fight for peanuts in lesser shows? Or do they mumble some bs about the commission said 6 months and our hands are tied? Hopefully they’re serious. But they did use the day to get the next Belfort and Jones fights out of the way before July 1st so maybe they are serious, LOL.

          • Seth

            I highly doubt that they will release JBJ if he does something stupid again. They can’t AFFORD losing a star like that and on top of that – allowing Bellator to sign him. So let’s not hope like the best draws will be actually punished by UFC.

            NSAC or any other AC won’t punish them either. 1 year ban is at least 1 fight for JBJ (maybe 2). Can you imagine income for AC from that fight? Do you think Nevada will actually ban someone who can make them a lot of money? They already showed they won’t, when they left JBJ and DC unpunished for what they did. That silly fine and whatever they gave them was just a silly cover for not doing anything.

  • James Mckaskle

    Some of you should go back to being boxing and wwe fans..morons.

  • runner2300

    We advocate all fighters are tested…however if one of our marquee guys (i.e. Jon Jones) gets busted, we advocate nothing happen to him

    • Groinstrike

      Yeah that’s why Anderson is not getting suspended. As a matter of fact he’s next in line for a title shot…….

  • sean


  • George Sperry

    Help me out here…. If the UFC doesn’t want to schedule a fighter for a fight in a 2 year period who can make them do it?
    If Macao suspends a guy for 6 months rather than the 2 years the UFC says they want why would they give that guy a fight after 6 months?

  • runner2300

    UFC + NSAC = corruption