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The devil is in the details for UFC’s new drug policy

By Zach Arnold | February 18, 2015

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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:

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.

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:

  1. Due process.
  2. Legal & regulatory landscape.
  3. Athletes are independent contractors and not employees. “We don’t have the same legal rights as an employer does over employees.”
  4. Geographical, logistical, and language issues.

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.

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.

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.

The end result is tougher talk from UFC on doping but still a lack of finalized details on many critical matters.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “The devil is in the details for UFC’s new drug policy”

  1. Chris says:

    They tried to say all of the right things. Let’s see…

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Definitely the details make all of the difference…. but this is still a huge step forward. It does feel like change is slowly happening.

  3. RST says:

    Eeew, dont want brookhouse shmutz on my Fightopinion!

    As far as the new PED deal.
    Its funny that it finally took a high profile guy like anderson for UFC to finally go “Oh my gosh! These PEDs are bad”!
    But kind of like after OJ, its already sounding like they want to go a little overboard to compensate.

    I like year round randoms, I think that might be good enough. And if they want to avoid these kinds of high profile embarrassment test all the main card guys far enough out (month and a half?) to get the results back and move things around if need be.

    But the 2-4 year thing is kinda draconion. Thats just kicking them out of the sport. They shouldn’t have a right to use their monopoly contracts to privately levy twice or quadruple the standard athletic commision punishment.
    1 year is plenty of lost physically athletic time, career progress and income. And after 1 pop they get increased scrutiny.
    2-4 years is like after OJ when you cant even ask your wife to put the dishes in the sink without getting domestic violence charges. (And brent brookhouse writing an investigative report on your abusive tendencies.)

  4. Chris says:

    I think it’s great that two of the guys that run the UFC want to rid their organization of PED’s, and they both look “Juiced” to the gills. Yep, I said it.

  5. LOL at PED test for safety. If that was the cause how come Amateur MMA fighters compete doing drugs, no brain scans and no medicals if any concerns about safety exist. It is all about controlling fighters to stay with UFC. Your loyal you pass not loyal you fail. Get advise to do cocaine to hide the ped test. They only scan fighters in other organizations like when Sakuraba was going to fight Gracie at the LA Coliseum. They said Sakuraba had a tumor even after Royces Dr personally tested him two times and he was good. Had to threaten the CSAC with a lawsuit. That is when Armando UFC Garcia was the CSAC EO.

    • Zack says:

      Are you getting this mixed up?

      Hong Man Choi DID have a tumor, and that’s why he didn’t fight Brock. He got it removed and shrunk big time, much like Bigfoot Silva.

    • rst says:

      “… no brain scans and no medicals if any concerns about safety exist.”

      Who’s gonna pay for all that?
      Resources aren’t infinite and plucked from the air my friend.
      Somebody eventually pays for them.
      If you’re expecting the rich to pay for it from the top down, thats not how it works in a free economy.
      My enthusiastic friend.
      The cost just trickles down to the last person to pay for it.

      In general, in a western democracy, you have to invest the money were its most effective.
      In this example, testing!


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