Many believe mixed martial arts will never garner mainstream acceptance until the UFC, the sport’s most prestigious organization, starts subjecting its fighters to random drug testing. Although UFC president Dana White (Pictured) has shied away from issuing surprise exams in the past, it appears he’s changing course and Octagon athletes will soon be screened more frequently.
“The steroid, [performance-enhancing drug] thing affects the whole sport,” White told LATimes. “The key is to make sure these guys never get on it, because once they do, they change. But I think we have about 42 fights a year … you have a guy or two popping [positive tests] here and there, that’s a pretty good ratio.”
When former heavyweight top contender Alistair Overeem flunked his random pre-fight test in March, it confirmed that pop quizzes were the key to bringing purity to the sport. Because states’ athletic commissions can’t afford to conduct year-round exams, the onus falls on the fight promotions to monitor their athletes. Thankfully, the UFC finally appears prepared to spearhead the charge.
“Yes. We’re going to do our own testing, order these guys into [a lab]; we’re sorting it out now,” White expressed. “You have to do this to save the sport. You can’t have these guys fighting on this stuff.”
Random testing should also help eliminate some of the advantages for the fighters who have been prescribed Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), which many believe has become a legal PED.
The cheater’s handbook for TRT suggests athletes are manipulating the regimen while preparing for a fight. They will jack up their testosterone levels beyond normal ranges in order to push their bodies to its outermost limit. As showtime steadily approaches, they will then taper off the treatment to get their testosterone back to a natural level – therefore, no flunked drug tests.
However, random exams will help ensure fighters stay within normal ranges during out-of-competition periods.
Very little information was released regarding the UFC’s new testing policy, specifically when it will begin.