From our mouths, to the UFC’s ears. The planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion is finally taking the most aggressive step towards cleaning up the sport that they’re the face of.
UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner told ESPN.com that the UFC is in talks with as many as five independent agencies to implement a random, out-of-competition drug testing program for blood and urine within the next few months.
The UFC will foot the entire bill, which is expected to cost millions annually.
“We are meeting with different companies right now and we’re going to have out-of-competition testing,” Ratner stated. “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.”
Media members have long been calling for the UFC to conduct random, out-of-competition drug testing in order to weed out the growing number of cheaters.
UFC stars Chael Sonnen (twice), Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva and Ali Bagautinov all failed their random drug tests this year.
State athletic commissions are strapped financially and unable to provide the random drug exams required to ensure fighters aren’t dirty. Nevada – who caught Sonnen, Belfort and Silva – has sprung surprise tests in the past, but the UFC typically paid for them.
As it currently stands, state athletic commission or the UFC, when they host shows in countries that don’t have their own governing body, sanction UFC events and are responsible for overseeing drug tests on fight night – but only urine is collected.
For the first time at a UFC-sanctioned show, main event fighters were subjected to blood and urine drug tests following last weekend’s card in China. Although, Michael Bisping and Cung Le were notified of that three days before their scrap so it wasn’t necessarily random.
Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre previously said “you’re very disorganized” if you get busted with a performance-enhancing substance the way the system is currently set up because everyone knows exactly when they will be tested.
St-Pierre, the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw, voluntarily relinquished his title earlier this year to take a “break” from MMA. He later revealed the UFC’s lax drug testing was one of his primary reasons for bolting.
GSP said last week that he would never return if he and his future opponents weren’t “thoroughly tested for the most advanced PEDs by a credible independent anti-doping organization like VADA or USADA under the strictest standards of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) Code.”
If the UFC wants GSP to return, this move will certainly help their plight. More importantly, if the UFC wants to clean up its image, there’s no better place to start than by cleaning up its fighters.