By Zach Arnold | October 8, 2014
Is UFC’s HGH drug testing of Cung Le their ugly Roger Goodell moment?
I'm for cleaning up the sport, but also think the fighters deserve a fair process, with re-tests and appeals..what the ufc is doing ain't it
— Robert Joyner (@robnashville) October 6, 2014
Cung Le went into his Macau fight against Michael Bisping with a ripped physique. After he got Freddy Krueger’d by Bisping, UFC announced last week that Le had failed a post-fight HGH drug test. UFC initially suspended Le for nine months, then came back and stated that they made a mistake and the suspension would be a year-long ban.
Le’s camp argued that the Hong Kong lab UFC used wasn’t WADA-approved. The blood sample was collected after the fight. The IGF-1 test wasn’t used for HGH detection. The HK lab only kept the blood sample for one week. The WADA standard for keeping a blood testing sample is 10 years. There was no chance for appeal (the B sample) because the blood sample taken had allegedly been destroyed.
These are very specific allegations being made here. The claims should be easy for UFC to refute. Instead, UFC issued a no comment.
IMO @ufc "self-regulated" anti-doping team is INCOMPETENT. Protocol 4 total hgh test is fasted & rested. NOT POST FIGHT SAMPLE COLLECTION
— Victor Conte (@VictorConte) October 6, 2014
The blowback from defending Le’s protest was swift. On Twitter, Scott Carasik argued that the fighters signed contracts agreeing to let UFC handle the testing and that it is up to Le & other fighters to prove that UFC violated their own drug testing policy & protocols. In other words, UFC isn’t guilty of anything unless they contractually stated that their HGH testing had to be done at a WADA-approved lab. The counter-argument to that point is that UFC attempts to mirror various state athletic commissions and commissions like California and Nevada use WADA-accredited labs.
Whatever your opinion of the situation may be, it appears that UFC got caught with their pants down here. It is entirely reasonable for fans to believe what UFC is claiming regarding Le’s supposed HGH usage while at the same time recognizing that they screwed the pooch here on the process.
Smelling blood in the water and providing an appropriately aggressive defense, Cung Le’s camp is firing back again in the press. Previously, no appeals process was going to be granted by UFC. How can you have an appeal if the blood sample taken was allegedly destroyed?
Then came the U-turn today with ESPN reporting that UFC will allow Le to appeal his HGH test with a third-party arbitrator. The arbitration process will take place in America even though the testing happened overseas. UFC is now claiming that they will never use a non-WADA accredited lab again for blood testing. If you’re a fighter competing on a card where UFC is controlling the drug testing, how can you trust their protocols now? How can UFC stop the paranoia in which fighters & managers will be suspicious of drug testing results being used against their clients as a hardball financial negotiating tactic?
Gabriel Montoya published this damning article today at Bloody Elbow with comments from Don Catlin & Gary Ibarra (Le’s manager). Le’s camp claims that the drug testing results were not in English.