The move, announced on Tuesday, is unprecedented in mixed martial arts.
Zuffa has committed to trying to weed out any athletes who are coming to their promotions under the influence of performance enhancing drugs.
“We’re committed to the health and safety of our athletes and we take it very seriously,” UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. “We already work closely with athletic commissions to protect our athletes and now we’re taking it one step further. We’re going to test any potential UFC or Strikeforce fighter before finalizing their contract. This shows that we don’t want performance-enhancing drugs in our sport.”
All potential athletes who are set to be signed under contract to the UFC or Strikeforce will be required to complete the drug screening procedures. The current athletes already on the roster will continue to be tested under the guidelines of the promotion and the athletic commissions that oversee the sport in each particular state or country.
“The health and safety of our athletes is our top priority,” UFC president Dana White said. “We’ve seen the issues performance-enhancing drugs have caused in other sports and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them out of the UFC and Strikeforce. Our athletes are already held to the highest testing standards in all sports by athletic commissions. Our new testing policy for performance-enhancing drugs only further shows how important it is to us to have our athletes competing on a level playing field.”
The news about the new drug screening policy comes at a particularly poignant time in MMA after two top fighters recently tested positive for steroids.
Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos recently tested positive after her fight in December 2011 and was suspended for one year by the California State Athletic Commission.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, former Strikeforce champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal also tested positive for steroids, as revealed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Zuffa’s move is aimed at cutting down any incident of a fighter coming into the organization that could test positive for performance enhancing drugs.