TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

What the UFC and Athletic Commisions Can Do to Curb PED Use in MMA

by Fred Camacho

With two of the last three UFC title contenders finding themselves tied to steroid allegations, Shane Carwin was named as a customer of an Alabama doctor convicted of distributing steroids and Chael Sonnen’s post fight drug test from UFC 117 has tested positive, Dana White was posed with determining how to tackle this issue.

In an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo sports Dana White responded “What else can I do?”  “When one of them fails a test, the government is going to fine them and suspend them and tell them they can’t make a living for a year. So should I come in after they’ve already lost the ability to make a living for a year and been fined all this money and, in the worst economic disaster in the history of the world, fine them another huge amount and take away their ability to make a living even longer?”

What you can do, Dana is work with the athletic commissions to institute out of competition testing.  The most obvious problem with the current system of drug testing is that the athletes all know they’re going to be tested the night of the fight.  To an experienced steroid abuser, this gives them ample time to plan their cycle in a way that they still get a benefit of the drugs while training and have time to get any banned substance out of their system before being tested.  Other major sports organizations have relied on this honor system of predetermined testing dates and have opted for random testing for the simple fact that random testing is a superior method.  It’s absolutely not feasible or fair to test every man on their roster at random points in the year, I’m not going to make that case.  What the UFC and all athletic commissions should do is initiate a test within 24 hours of the fight agreement being signed then once more during the training camp, prior to the fight.  Independent drug testing laboratories exist throughout the world.  It would not be impossible to arrange for certain labs to process and test the samples or to have them sent to the UFC for testing.

This will not only keep fighters honest as they may not know exactly when they may be offered a fight and have to submit a sample but also provides a way of providing different means of punishment for those who test positive for performance enhancers.  Should a fighter fail a pre-fight test, either the one submitted at the time the fight agreement was signed or the mid camp test, different punishments can come from the UFC, not the athletic commission.  If a fighter failed either pre-fight test, the UFC could choose whether or not to cancel the fight, or to suspend the fighter and if so the duration of the suspension.

Perhaps it’s time for the UFC to make the next step in becoming a mainstream sport and institute a more mainstream drug policy.  No pro sports league has it perfect.  Major League Baseball’s battles with steroids have reached the halls of congress and the NFL is still catching players juicing even with randomized testing.  My suggestion isn’t perfect either, but it’s better than what’s in place now, and more importantly, it shows that there is something else Dana White can do.