(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
UFC president Dana White was asked about the possibility of the promotion conducting random drug testing on the fighters it has under contract at yesterday's post-fight press conference following UFC on Fuel TV 2 He violently rejected the notion as "impossible" and even "insane"
"I have 375 fighters in every country all over the world. The battle that I have to get these guys to get their [expletive] bout agreements back and show up for press is un[expletive]believable. The fact that I have to make personal phone calls to tell guys to talk to the [expletive] press. Now I'm going to start making personal phone calls to go show up for random drug tests? The general public and the media need to grasp some [expletive] concept of reality, okay? The reality of us doing all the [expletive] things that we're doing, when we already have the gold standard in drug testing, and then trying to chase 375 guys all over the world to randomly test them too? It's impossible," White said.
"You know why? Because this job is insane. It's [expletive] crazy. I was standing in Las Vegas ten hours a guy filming a [expletive] TV show, and now I'm sitting here. And I'm going to randomly drug test 375 guys around the world. You know where I'm going in a few hours? To Abu Dhabi. Then I go back and film ‘The Ultimate Fighter,' then I go to Atlanta, Miami, and I'm in Rio de Janeiro for three hours, then back to Las Vegas where I'll film ‘The Ultimate Fighter' again. And in between there somewhere I'm going to randomly drug test 375 [fighters]."
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MMA Fighting's Ben Fowlkes commented:
As drug testing experts will tell you, the science of cheating often tends to be one step ahead of the science of catching cheaters. Steroids used to be way that MMA fighters got an unfair advantage. At least then the state athletic commissions stood a decent chance of nabbing them with fight week testing, since all it took was a slight miscalculation in the timing of steroid cycles. Now testosterone is the performance-enhancer of choice, in part because it's hard to detect unless you do the right tests at the right time, which are rare in MMA.
That's why it's tough to swallow when White claims that the UFC currently has "the gold standard in drug testing" for all of pro sports. As he pointed out this weekend, fighters are tested when they sign a Zuffa contract or show up to a fight. But because fighters know that, those are tests they can plan around. Especially with short-acting agents like testosterone, any test that isn't a surprise to the testee is practically a waste of time. At the moment, MMA has very little of that kind of testing, which is a problem that needs fixing.
The UFC has done a lot to address this issue -- more than it is legally required to, in fact. That doesn't mean there isn't still a lot of room for necessary improvement. I think we all understand that it's difficult (though not impossible). We all understand that there are several good reasons why it isn't happening right now. But who said it was supposed to be easy? Either this matters to us or it doesn't. And if it matters, then we should find a way to do it, even when it's hard.
Fowlkes makes some good points but I have to say that personally I think the UFC is already more involved in the drug testing of athletes -- they are tested by the organization when they sign, they are tested by the organization if they are on The Ultimate Fighter, they are tested by the organization if they fight in an area with no commission (Japan) or a lax commission (Texas).
There needs to be an outside body with international standing that is empowered to conduct random blood test of athletes. Anything else is less than serious.