U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to All Athletic Commissions: “You Can Do A Lot Better”

Written by Tom Ngo
June 15th, 2010

Strikeforce Heavyweight Champ Alistair Overeem

This past week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission invited a panel of experts to speak at this month’s meeting in an effort to gain perspective on what could be done to prevent athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs.

While mixed martial arts wasn’t the primary reason the topic of PED’s was addressed, it’s a glaring concern considering the growth of not only the sport, but some of it’s athletes as well. Although Nevada hosted the gathering, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency isn’t impressed with any of the screenings currently being conducted by America’s commissions.

“You can do better,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. “You can do a lot better. I ask you to do better on behalf of clean athletes.

“When I’ve got athletes coming to me to put a program in because they don’t think yours is adequate, that’s not good for our athletes. We need better.”

Here is what the experts had to say about the controversial subject, courtesy of MMAJunkie.com:

Blood Test vs. Urine Test:

“If you want to have an effective program, you at least have to have the right to do both (urine and blood testing). The right gives you that deterrent. You can decide later after you have that right how much you’re actually going to do and when you’re actually going to do it, but I think if you don’t have the right to do it, it sends a loud message to dirty athletes: Go do whatever drug will give you a benefit that can only be detected in blood.

Everybody with a heartbeat now knows [Human Growth Hormone] is only detected in blood. It will be a free-for-all, if it’s not already, for Human Growth Hormone use if you don’t have the right to at least collect blood.” – Travis Tygart, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO

Cheaters Staying Ahead of the Game:

“This business of testing for performance-enhancing drugs is going to be in the future a never-ending situation. There are people that insist upon – either through science or in some way – finding an advantage in a sport, particularly in professional sport where the awards are financial. We’ll always have to have an open-ended list of performance-enhancing drugs and always be looking for the new substances.” – Robert Voy, former chief medical officer for the United States Olympic Committee

Tygart was quick to point out the NSAC’s shortcomings regarding the evolution of doping:

“You can’t specifically list every drug that would fall in the category of anabolic steroids,” Tygart said. “That’s the designer steroid issue. Secondly, [the NSAC doesn’t] prohibit methods that aren’t drugs. There are methods such as gene doping, such as transfusions, that would be very beneficial (to combat sports athletes).

“You can’t give people notice,” Tygart added. “It allows an athlete ample time to mask, to catheterize, to dilute, to do a number of different things to get a different substance, a different urine supply, a Whizzinator – you see these devices that are out there – and athletes are using them.

“No question, there’s a big difference, and you have to have a premium on no-advance-notice testing.”


“You can’t afford not to do it. You have to find ways to have a great policy, provide some education – there’s no cost to that – and then look at the money you have. Can you find new revenues? Can you shift revenues? I don’t know,” Tygart said.

“Take a dollar ‘Integrity of Sport’ contribution from the pay-per-view to (Floyd) Mayweather-(Shane) Moseley, and that will fund your program for the next five years. The money is there. You just have to decide, I think, that it’s a priority, and spend the time to try and come up with a program that can be the most effective that it can given the resources.

“I look at the pay-per-view money, and I look at the purses for the athletes – and granted, that’s the big fight and the one fight – I look at the revenues the casinos are making. The casinos have an interest. They have an interest in having a level playing field. The odds go against them when someone’s cheating to win … Don’t let money stop you from putting a policy in place that works.”

Closing Statement:

“Make no mistake, when an athlete cheats with drugs, it is fraud. A lot of taxpayer money is being defrauded when athletes cheat and win,” Tygart said. “Please, no disrespect. I appreciate your willingness to consider these issues and hopefully do better.

“I think frankly, [the current testing system] is inadequate. You guys deserve better. Your athletes deserve better.”

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