I guess Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) does care about the drug problem, after all.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is continuing its assault on the performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem that has plagued the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) over the last couple of years, and forced some fighters to call it a career, by taking matters into its own hands.
According to Marc Ratner, vice president of regulatory affairs, UFC officials are currently meeting with several agencies to see if they can land a deal to administer their own random, year-round out-of-competition drug tests. That's blood and urine testing, to be exact.
Ratner talks to ESPN:
"We are meeting with different companies right now and we're going to have out-of-competition testing. We're not sure when it's going to start, but we're working on it right now. Unannounced blood and urine is going to happen, hopefully in the next three or four months. When you're talking about 500 fighters, there are a lot of logistics. Having fighters in foreign countries makes it tougher, but we're coming up with a plan and (agencies) are making proposals to us in the next two weeks."
While athletic commission across the country do their own drug testing, some of them have been the beneficiaries of UFC's help with "enhanced' random tests. That's because without the assistance of the ZUFFA-owned company (and its huge bank account), some commissions can't afford to go above and beyond its usual methods.
And the results have spoken for themselves, as plenty of high-profile athletes have been caught red-handed thanks to unannounced tests. Most notably Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, and Wanderlei Silva (almost), who were among the many fighters who were popped and stopped (read all about it here).
According to the report, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta wants to make it perfectly clear that once the new program takes effect, it will in no way "impede with jurisdiction of any regulatory body."
That's why Ratner says this process isn't an easy one to navigate, though they hope to have it off the ground by the end of the year.
"There are a lot of moving pieces here. This issue has always been part of our regiment. We want to make sure there is a level playing field, so we're going to be testing."
2014 has seen what could be a record number of fighters test positive for PEDs, which can be attributed to the promotion's continued efforts to crack down harder than ever.
And now that UFC is planning to up its game even more, we can either expect an increase in positive tests, or maybe even a decline. That is, of course, if would-be offenders think twice about juicing up now that the chances of getting busted are going to increase dramatically.
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