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Report: No drug testing for UFC 69 or UFC 70

By Zach Arnold | April 26, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

Update: The Chronicle report is now discussed on the AOL Sports Blog. And here’s the inevitable Sherdog thread on the topic. Further links: UFC Mania, UFC Junkie. Here are some reasons why I think this is an important story.

Steve Sievert in the Houston Chronicle drops a bombshell this morning in a report claiming that Zuffa LLC, the parent company of UFC, did not administer drug tests to fighters for either the UFC 69 (Houston) or UFC 70 (Manchester, UK) events.

According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the agency that oversees everything from manicures to midwives and combative sports in the Lone Star State, drug testing at UFC 69 was the responsibility of the “sanctioning body” of the event.

Well, there’s just one problem with that – the UFC itself was, in essence, the sanctioning organization for the event, which put the promotion in the awkward position of having to police its own fighters and administer drug tests. It did not.

This sounds like the kind of story that needs the investigative reporting work of someone like Charles Jay of, who caused quite a stir in 2003 with his article series on alleged malfeasance by Pennysylvania state athletic commission executive director Greg Sirb.

This story gains more importance because at UFC 69, Diego Sanchez fought in the semi main-event against Josh Koscheck. Diego Sanchez failed a drug test in California when he fought last December. And… UFC has a show scheduled for Ireland on June 16th. Will there be drug testing at that event?

One more observation…

There was no drug testing on a show in which the main event was a UFC title fight (Serra vs. GSP).

Quick side questions: Does this mean there was no drug testing for the IFL (2/2 in Houston) and Art of War (3/9 in Dallas) MMA shows? What about future drug testing for Texas MMA events (including the Art of War show in may)? Will the English newspapers take this story and use it to attack UFC? They’ve already attacked UFC for being barbaric, but not having drug testing at the show certainly could raise some eyebrows.

I commend Steve for his excellent write-up here. (Hat tip: Body Shots.)

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, UK, Zach Arnold | 41 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

41 Responses to “Report: No drug testing for UFC 69 or UFC 70”

  1. Preach says:

    I think that the UFC was in a very bad position in Houston, since they only had two options: either do the drugtests themselves, or do none. Either way the situation would have raised some eyebrows (just like it does now). They didn’t do it, so now people are asking “Why didn’t they do it? What are they trying to hide?”, but if they had chosen to do it there would’ve been people saying “Zuffa administered the drug tests, so they most probably manipulated them if someone tested positive!”.

    The same thing goes for the Manchester show. Though one could argue why they didn’t bring some NSAC officials with them to do the tests, like they plan on doing at the Zuffa-PRIDE shows in Japan.

    Either way, there’s bound to be some sort of negative backlash coming out of this. Hopefully they won’t make this mistake again.

  2. leuwenbroy says:

    I agree with the above poster, I’ve heard much made of the “legitmacy of MMA” by the Zuffa camp – consistency in rules, judging, testing, etc.

    They could easily arrange for independent, third party testing without incurring unreasonable costs. Hopefully they won’t make this mistake again.

  3. UFC Junkie says:

    Don’t forget what Dana White stated a few days before the UFC 70 event:

    “[Each drug test] will be a random drug test, and actually, what we are doing for this is Marc Ratner will be overseeing and has flown over a lot of inspectors, judges and referees. As far as safety goes, we always go overboard. Ratner is overseeing the whole thing.”

  4. Jonathan says:

    I do not care really. Have we shown that fighters who test positive in said drug tests actually win their fights?

  5. Me says:

    Tim Sylvia and Josh Barnett did. It’s not happening lately but it could.

  6. Kev says:

    I’m going to blame Texas. Plainly bad policy to push the buck onto another org, I wouldn’t trust any of the boxing commissions with drug testing either.

  7. KennyP says:

    While I agree that the boxing commissions aren’t particularly trustworthy (or honest, or competant, or…), unlike the UFC, they don’t own the promotional rights to the fighters. While they earn their fee from the purse bid, they have a far more indirect financial stake in the success of individual fighters.

  8. Fight Dude says:

    Who cares? WHy care? We are not fighting, we are just watching. It might be better if we LET them take drugs. It is THEIR bodies right?


  9. The Gaijin says:

    When PRIDE didn’t test there fighters – EVERY one of their fighters was a “juicer” and “on something”, UFC doesnt test and of course people come up with a million and one excuses.

    Nice double standard folks.

  10. Lynchman says:

    UFC Junkie,

    Don’t forget the comment from Ratner regarding UFC 70:

    “We were ordering tests, but found we had no legal means to do it,” said Ratner. “They had no commission there. There was no drug testing there.”

  11. Joe T says:

    drugs or not drugs, the UFC and MMA are here to stay. Mayweather is full of it when he says this is just a fad.

    for ALL the fightnews online!!

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    Steve Sievert is a good writer for MMA, but this is the one time he is off base. And you people are his flock of sheep.

    1. Texas – That is an issue with Texas, not the UFC. Why is the UFC responsible for this? They are not.

    2. United Kingdom – Zuffa is actually trying to help with the commission being started up there. They inviting regulators and drug testing. For some people to act like the UFC is trying to duck authority is a joke.

    3. Pride has never had drug testing outside of 2 shows. Why weren’t fans up in arms and on Pride’s case about this? You never cared when it was a Pride show.

    Plus, the UFC has a bunch of former regulators running the business. They know if they drug test, then their company will legally be looked at much different. There are much more reasons then just testing the fighters as to why it is a bad thing for their corporate entity.

    Fight Opinion is usually good about tough issues. I just have to disagree today.

  13. PizzaChef says:

    Nice….45 Huddle makes it look like that Zach is anti-UFC and pro-PRIDE now. What a screwy day it is eh Zach? Guess we both can’t win.

  14. Canson says:

    I don’t see Zach as anti-UFC or anti-PRIDE, just pro pessimism.

  15. 45 Huddle says:

    Any truth to the rumors going around that Sherdog will be providing content for ESPN for their MMA Section? If so, it sounds like how they use Maxboxing for their Boxing section.

    I hope the rumor isn’t true. Those guys are far from legit reporters. More like fanboys with an anti-UFC agenda. Especially Sherwood & Gross.

    Also, if this rumor is true, it means ESPN is really only covering the sport because they have to and will provide only minimal coverage on TV. If they were serious about the sport, they would have hired their own people to do coverage like what happens for the major sports.

  16. Mike says:

    There’s no scoop here. UFC was not required to do something, and they didn’t do it. Re-write that headline as “UFC doesn’t do something they had no obligtion to do.” Testing is mandated by the Nevada and California commissions. This occurred neither in California nor Nevada.

    If UFC somehow attempted to get out of testing fighters after a show in Nevada, or somewhere they’re legally required to conduct tests, then you’d have an issue.

  17. 45 Huddle says:

    Or imagine the UFC does get a positive test. Then they have to hand out a suspension. Here is the scenario:

    Michael Bisping gets caught for roids. The UFC fines him 10% of his purse and suspends him for a year.

    1. Why should the UFC get the purse money? They have no rights to it.

    2. Once Bisping is given a suspension, it creates all sorts of issues.

    Now, the UFC has an event in Nevada and Couture gets busted for the same steroid. The NSAC suspends him for 9 months.

    Fighters will then say: “Hey, the UFC already has shown to be able to suspend fighters. Why aren’t they putting on an additional 3 months to make Couture & Bisping fair?”

    A fighter with any legit lawyer would be able to fight this and make legal issues then the UFC wants.

    The people associated with the UFC are smart. They know how this stuff works. Have a little faith. And hopefully, with their help, TX will drug test in the future and the UK will have a commission to assist with this stuff. Zuffa is pushing towards this.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    45 take off the god-damned “ufc rose coloured glasses”…you’re a good poster but whenever it comes to anything regarding ufc or their competition you have no brain and its all from your UFC-loyalty.

    No offence but you aren’t able to be neutral in any way when it comes to these topics.

    PRIDE has been accused of harbouring juicers and all sorts of worse things b/c they didnt test for anything, so I have no idea where you’re coming from on 3.) of your third to last post. They take ALL SORTS of heat and people were rubbing their hands togeher feverishly for when they actually did get tested and on the whole they were no worse (or better) than any other organization.

    To think that the UFC would EVER suspend someone for longer than the already existing precedents (especially since their home state of Nevada has lots of pre-existing precedents) is just another case of you building up one of your many strawman arguments to prove a point.

  19. Lynchman says:

    Ratner has already said their lawyers are working on it and that they will be testing in Ireland.

  20. iain says:

    Huddle45 you are a hate mongering hate-oid. Josh Gross (along with Loretta Hunt) is one of the leaders in mma journalism. Sherdog doesn’t have an anti-ufc agenda, they started out covering pretty much only the ufc back in the day. They are well placed to cover mma for espn.

    Jesus, the ammount of hate you and white ninja sling is nuts. Take off your fanboy glasses and appreciate the god damned sport. Covering promotions is important but come one kids, it’s what happens in the ring/cage that’s important. Why do people still care about orgs now that zuffa has everything. There’s no point in hating on bodog just because they have bad marketing or whatever. Why can’t you enjoy seeing a good fight instead of whining about some stupid japanese kareoke finger chopperz.

  21. Zach Arnold says:

    I don’t see Zach as anti-UFC or anti-PRIDE, just pro pessimism.

    You, sir, should be a campaign manager.

    In all seriousness, there’s a very good reason why the UFC (non) drug testing story is an issue. I’ll elaborate further later, but here’s what it boils down to:

    Dana White has used a boilerplate template every time he has talked to media outlets covering UFC for the first time. You know about The Zuffa Myth. Well, what’s a major component of it? That “UFC” introduced drug testing and weight classes.

    UFC is the promotion that has boxed themselves into a corner here by proclaiming that they drug test their fighters all the time. Dana White has further insinuated that there should be no sanctioning bodies overruling UFC like there are in boxing. Well, if he wanted to prove that point so badly, then this situation (with no drug testing enforcement in Texas and Manchester) was the perfect situation in which UFC could have ‘self-policed’ itself by doing their own drug tests.

    By admitting that there was no testing at their two big April events, UFC has put themselves into a hole here. It’s like I’ve discussed on past editions of Fight Opinion Radio – do you entrust the future of this business in the hands of UFC in terms of drug testing, creating a farm system, pushing the right guys, etc.? Not drug testing at UFC 69 or UFC 70 is a strike against that trust.

  22. Body_Shots says:

    Admitting it was a good thing IMO.

    Maybe UFC 69 was unavoidable but they knew there wasn’t going to be a commission in the UK. They dropped the ball now they have to take the hit for it.

    Sherdog doesn’t have an anti-ufc agenda, they started out covering pretty much only the ufc back in the day. They are well placed to cover mma for espn.

    Sherdog did have this anti-UFC thing going on for while, especially after they were denied credentials.

  23. Body_Shots says:

    Matter fact, back when PRIDE was in it’s heyday Sherdog was chalk full of ‘fanboy’ journalism.

    During 2006, the biggest year in MMA history and probably one of the most pivotal years in the sport. They did nothing but bitch and shit on every PPV (including UFC 66) the UFC put out. While ignoring the Fuji/PRIDE/Yazuka story. I can count on my hand the amount of critiques of PRIDE (as a company) I’ve read on Sherdog.

  24. 45 Huddle says:

    The best MMA Journalist is Dave Meltzer. The fact that MMA is more secondary for him should say everything you need to know about the current crop of MMA “Journalists”. Anybody who reads his newsletter knows it makes anything that Gross or Hunt do look like a bunch of amateurs.

  25. I’d say it’s Loretta Hunt. She got punched in the face by Phil Baroni. TO LORETTA HUNT!

  26. Rollo the Cat says:

    Sherdog is more of a fan site than a news site. The writing and the professionalism are inconsistent. And yes, there was an anti UFC bias there, as well as a bias against anyone who rubs them the wrong way.

    I would have thought ESPN would have selected a little more carefully.

    I Agree about Meltzer. He is definitely one of the rare MMA writers who meets professional standards.

  27. 45 Huddle says:

    Heck, they had a Figher of the Year Voting, and Sherwod basically didn’t agree with his staff and decided with his own fighter. What kind of credible site is that?

  28. Zach Arnold says:

    For those wondering about a deal between Sherdog and ESPN, yes it is true. (This is what I alluded to last week on the radio show in terms of the ‘seal of approval’ comment).

    If you go onto now and look at the ‘other’ category, is linked on their drop-down menu.

  29. The Gaijin says:


    The fact of the matter is UFC DOES NOT and will not from here on out (b/c the main competitor is gone) put on what I would consider to be “good cards”. For the most part its like boxing where they have ONE really good fight (and in some cases just one really good fighter with the name draw to pull in the fans) and the rest is filler with cheaper talents. They run so many PPV’s and UFN’s now that they arent willing to run more than 1 big fight per card.

    Look back for as long as you can remember and its one big fight and the rest is undercard “meh” level stuff. Granted there’s always the surprise fight were a couple of lower name guys bang out exciting fights, but UFC aint gonna give us much, especially now that the have a stranglehold on things.

    The last one to have more “big names” was UFC 67 which more or less featured showcase fights for their new boys in Cro Cop and Rampage (fighting guys that were definately there to lose) and Anderson Silva vs. TUF winner Lutter.

  30. iain says:

    To everybody bashing Sherdog.

    In 2006 a lot of UFC ppvs were pretty bad in terms of cards. Arlovski – Buentello and what have you, they had a right to crticize certainly with augmenting prices. I think Josh Gross specifically stayed very professional during the entire credentials thing. It was only Sherwood (who is pretty much not part of the journalistic team) who took it bad on an emotions point of view. He felt personally slighted after he did a lot to get the UFC to where it is today. In terms of the Yakuza story they did what was professional and did not jump the gun over a tabloid’s attacks. Now with the nearly daily live radio chock full of big stars, in depth world wide coverage, really good card breakdowns, the mma worlds only comprehensive fight finder and tons of pictures and video, I challenge you to find a more complete site in terms of MMA coverage. You guys just moan non stop and seriously just playa hate. ESPN made the best choice product wise.

  31. Zach Arnold says:

    It’s one thing to defend the quality of Sherdog as a site (in relation to the content it produces).

    It’s another thing entirely to try to defend Sherdog over their coverage of the biggest scandal in the history of MMA. Which they did a bad job of doing. Like all the other major ‘MMA’ web sites.

  32. iain says:

    Well you have make it relative to north america. It really didn’t become a story until the financial troubles started to ramp up. And when it came to the acquisition they were way ahead of everybody (like they are for a lot of stuff, crocop being another example). They like everyone else didn’t want to jump the gun. And yes zach we all know, you said before everyone else. You can say I told you so. Now you can bash the IFL and bodog since pride is dead.

    Face it they are the biggest in terms of online coverage and espn is smart in partnering up with them.

  33. Body_Shots says:

    That’s the problem with a lot of ‘hardcore fans’ Gaijin. To many, a good card is one that consists of a lot of ‘names’, regardless of match ups or relevance.

    Many of the what you called ‘cheaper talent’ are now contenders in 2007 (Yushin Okami, Gabriel Gonzaga, Brandon Vera, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann, Roger Huerta etc).

    It’s not as if these fighters weren’t hot prospects before they fought in the UFC either. It’s that these self professed ‘hardcore fans’, aren’t educated on MMA outside of UFC or PRIDE.

    I’ll watch a young Jon Fitch fight another hungry up-and-comer over Fedor vs. Zulu anyday.

    Iain, there’s was one article written in relation to the scandal last year, one. There’s your ESPN of MMA.

    Also Buentello didn’t fight Arlovski in 2006.

  34. Zach Arnold says:

    Well you have make it relative to north america. It really didn’t become a story until the financial troubles started to ramp up. And when it came to the acquisition they were way ahead of everybody (like they are for a lot of stuff, crocop being another example). They like everyone else didn’t want to jump the gun. And yes zach we all know, you said before everyone else. You can say I told you so. Now you can bash the IFL and bodog since pride is dead.

    Face it they are the biggest in terms of online coverage and espn is smart in partnering up with them.

    It wasn’t just Sherdog who blew covering the biggest scandal in the history of MMA as far as the English MMA media sites are concerned.

    With that stated, there were so many ways in which the media put their heads in the sand like ostriches about covering this. The reality is that most, if not all of the top MMA writers read this site daily or every-other-day. They know exactly what is going on in Japan and around the world. Which is why I’m extremely hard to give any of the major writers a pass whatsoever – because they know better than the way they acted.

    If this was a case of a group of writers just being dumb imbeciles, then I could rationalize why they didn’t cover the PRIDE implosion the way they did. But they’re not. The majority of English MMA writers understand the business and how it works.

  35. […] it deserves all the mainstream media attention in the world. However, let me encourage everyone to read my short reply from yesterday as to why you should care about this […]

  36. Joe T says:

    The UFC will continue to be the latest rage, regardless of the quality of fights. It is similar to WWF in drama but real when it comes to fights.

    The IFL, I don’t think the team concept will pick up, but I am going to get a bit of their stock at $4 a share!

    for ALL the fightnews online!

  37. Duke McGirt says:

    Whao, Whao. Zach. This is a big difference between a sanctioning body and an athletic commission. Dana is correct – there is no need for a sanctioning body, and they don’t perform the drug tests anyways. They *MAY* offer discipline for failed tests, depending on the sport.

    In the case of UFC 69 and 70, the local athletic commission either didn’t have an existing process established (as in Houston), or there was no commission in place at all (UK). In both of these cases, the UFC has no authority to test.

    What if they did test, and someone on the UFC 71 card failed for pot. Who would have decided the punishment? What would have made the difference between 3 months and 6 months suspension, and how much to fine?

  38. Zach Arnold says:

    I understand where you are coming from – I don’t think this situation should absolve the Texas or UK commissions in terms of not doing their job. However, in these situations it almost requires promoters to become proactive – especially when the Houston show had a title fight!

    I don’t believe at all that UFC not drug testing at UFC 69 or UFC 70 is ‘insidious’ or a ‘conspiracy.’ I am arguing, however, that UFC has publicly boxed itself into a corner on the drug testing issue and has to resolve this quickly if they plan to run in new markets with inexperienced commissions.

  39. GameCritic says:

    Zach, its easy for you to pounce and over report on every story considering your impunity. As a blogger, you aren’t held to the same jounalistic standards of ethics and accountability as other news/media sources. In the case of the Pride scandal unless, its understandable that these North American-based outlets don’t have the resources in Japan to interview people and verify facts. At the end of the day, all you did was piggyback all the news stories that came out of Japan and those daily tabloid reports hardly added much to the final story that was finally commonly reported. Let’s not mistaken over coverage (Zuffa myth anyone) as good reporting.

    Secondly, I’m not a big fan of Sherdog, but Josh Gross does a helluva job. His commentary and analysis/reports is usually well-though out, objective and he rarely if ever takes the fanboy bait. As far as radio shows go, FightOpinion could learn a thing or two from the Beatdown. The level of commentary from Fightopinion radio doesn’t measure up and I stopped listening because I couldn’t stomach hearing Erin responding to questions she clearly wasn’t qualified to answer with “I don’t know…”

  40. TG says:

    Why this roids concern?

    1. It may enhance performance, but doesn’t proper diet, weight lifting, yoga? Maybe we should ban Yoga? It may cause long term damage, who knows?

    2. Why all this concern for “fighter health”? Oxymoron. If you care about these guys maybe they should change profession,ehh. After taking several beatings roids are the least of someones concern.

    Get off you high horses. We watch humans beat the living shit out of each other, and your worried about how roids might hurt them? Hippocrates

  41. Layne says:

    Wow. No tests. What’s up with that. Do you think they knew one of there stars would be testing positive?

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