By Zach Arnold | February 18, 2015
So…during a drug testing presser. Dana yells at everyone, then announces a title fight and basically mic drops
— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) February 18, 2015
There were high expectations heading into Wednesday’s Las Vegas presser with Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta. How would they handle the public relations for all of the recent failed drug tests?
If you listened to Jordan Breen and Greg Savage on Cheap Seats, the expectation games for Wednesday’s presser was very high. Just what exactly would be concretely established by UFC given their history over the last five years with several high-profile fighters using testosterone? Dave Meltzer wrote an article comparing MMA’s drug plague to tackling America’s national debt.
Wednesday’s presser started out horrifically, got better after the first few minutes, and then got muddied with “we haven’t fully determined what the details are” answers in the media Q & A session.
In short, the following was declared:
- UFC will randomly test all 585 of their fighters for PEDs, starting in July of 2015. It will be handled by a third party using WADA testing standards.
- UFC will advocate for random out-of-competition drug testing to all the various state athletic commissions and pay for any associated costs for such testing.
- UFC claims that all co-main event & main event fighters will be subjected to “enhanced” drug testing, starting in July. What constitutes “enhanced” drug testing protocols was not elaborated on.
Dana White stated that UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission would never knowingly let a fighter fight on a card if they know before the fight that the fighter had failed a drug test for using performance enhancing drugs. He then used Hector Lombard’s failed drug as an opportunity to promote Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler for July in Las Vegas.
Lorenzo Fertitta said that the recent 26.3% failure rate for top UFC fighters is alarming. He stated that he would be in support of a two-year ban for fighters who fail drug tests. He even stated some support for a four-year ban, but later walked back whether or not a two-year ban would be the company’s official position.
@SBNLukeThomas code of conduct too…
— E. Casey Leydon (@ekc) February 18, 2015
Kevin Iole asked UFC COO/legal boss Larry Epstein about legal issues raised with out-of-competition drug testing during a conversation they had two weeks ago. Lorenzo stepped in and said that “certainly nothing has changed from that standpoint.” Epstein elaborated on the main legal issues that he feels must be dealt with:
- Due process.
- Legal & regulatory landscape.
- Athletes are independent contractors and not employees. “We don’t have the same legal rights as an employer does over employees.”
- Geographical, logistical, and language issues.
Yes, Dana, you did say that. Direct quote: "Our legal department screwed that whole thing up. We've got no business handling the regulation"
— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) February 18, 2015
Without mentioning Cung Le by name, Larry Epstein was asked who would handle punishment of fighters who fail a drug test on a UFC self-regulated event. “It’s going to be, frankly, a variety of groups including ourselves.” Epstein stated that UFC fighter contracts need to be modified to give UFC stronger legal rights to suspend fighters.
You have to love the blatant hostility in Dana's voice when addressing the media. As if they're the reason all this is happening.
— CagePotato.com (@cagepotatomma) February 18, 2015
Dana White, in our opinion, got very nervous when Ron Kruck quoted Joe Rogan as saying that there is a steroid epidemic in MMA. His position on drug usage by fighters was a far cry from what he has been saying over the last several years regarding fighters like Chael Sonnen using testosterone.
White: "Incredibly dangerous" to have PEDs in UFC. "If you can't compete with natural abilities, we don't want you here."
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) February 18, 2015
Lorenzo Fertitta indicated that any UFC champions who fail drug tests will be stripped of their title. Kevin Iole pressed Lorenzo on athlete commissions like Texas who do not implement as stringent of drug testing measures as other states. What if Texas suspends a fighter for 9 months when UFC’s current position is for a two year ban, then what? Lorenzo stated that UFC would be disappointed. Larry Epstein says UFC will advocate for stiffer punishments with the Nevada commission and then UFC will use those new rules for their self-regulated events.
Dana now saying he didn't say they were canceling the out of competition program earlier this year. I have the tape.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) February 18, 2015
The end result is tougher talk from UFC on doping but still a lack of finalized details on many critical matters.