Last week the Nevada State Athletic Commission brought in United States Anti-Doping Agency members for a discussion on possible ways to improve the effectiveness of the current testing that is in place. MMA Junkie has up several quotes from the meeting. Here are some of the juicy bits:
"You can do better," U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said. "You can do a lot better. I ask you to do better on behalf of clean athletes.
"If you want to have an effective program, you at least have to have the right to do both (urine and blood testing)," Tygart said. "The right gives you that deterrent. You can decide later after you have that right how much you're actually going to do and when you're actually going to do it. But I think if you don't have the right to do it, it sends a loud message to dirty athletes: Go do whatever drug will give you a benefit that can only be detected in blood.
"Everybody with a heartbeat now knows [human growth hormone] is only detected in blood. It will be a free-for-all, if it's not already, for human growth hormone use if you don't have the right to at least collect blood."
Tygart believes the NSAC should institute a policy similar to that of USADA's, which allows for no-advance-notice testing of both blood and urine. Essentially, fighters would need to be available for immediate testing at any and all times, as opposed to the 24-hour notice that athletes are currently given.
"You can't give people notice," Tygart said. "It allows an athlete ample time to mask, to catheterize, to dilute, to do a number of different things to get a different substance, a different urine supply, a Whizzinator – you see these devices that are out there – and athletes are using them.
All of Tygart's points are important and relevant. Right now anyone with an internet connection and money can do the research and buy an incredible number of PED's that can only be detected via blood test. While talks with athletic commission members always result in a statement that the current testing does a good job there is not any one of them that will say that HGH or EPO or anything of that nature would be caught by urine tests. There is also a very interesting section of the Junkie piece about the cost concerns and while the answers may not be satisfying they do seem to make sense.
I'm not so naive as to think that adding in blood testing reduces drug use in combat sports to zero, but there is really no excuse to not use the best testing possible.
Luke Thomas recently spoke to the UFC's Marc Ratner and the subject of testing did come up. Luke would ask him about the effectiveness of the current testing as well as the independent testing done by the promotion when they are overseas. Give it a listen: