If these guys can do it, why can't UFC fighters? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
We've all heard UFC president Dana White brag about the UFC having the most rigorously tested athletes in sports. Situations like Alistair Overeem and Chael Sonnen's failed drug tests for elevated testosterone levels lend some degree of credibility to the "effectiveness" of the current testing regime. The promotion also deserves credit for putting their own testing in place when operating in a state or country with little or no actual testing.
But there's another sport that not only has to deal with the current testing set up for the state athletic commissions and has athletes choosing to take things to the next level. Boxing.
The first real push the sport of boxing saw for blood testing was the first round of serious negotiations for a mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Floyd demanded blood testing because of suspicions that Manny had used performance enhancing drugs and he felt that the current urine tests weren't good enough. Some felt it was a negotiating tactic, and many felt that it was unfair to expect a fighter to agree to things that the state didn't require. It did work in Floyd's favor though, as Manny's "fear of needles" really dented his credibility in the public.
To Floyd's credit, he didn't back off blood testing for any opponent going forward. Shane Mosley (who had a history of PED use), Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto all agreed to "Olympic style" blood testing. But the idea of a "clean sport" has moved beyond just Mayweather fights.
On the undercard of Mayweather vs. Cotto, Shane Mosley and Canelo Alvarez used VADA testing for their bout. The highly anticipated rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto? VADA testing there too. Lamont Peterson vs. Amir Khan II? Yep, VADA.
Oh, and that Peterson/Khan fight? That might be in trouble after Lamont popped positive for a synthetic testosterone. In a bit of an ironic twist, it was Peterson who wanted the testing for the fight. So it would appear clear that VADA is reasonably effective.
In fact, it's getting a little weird that every other major fight is having VADA testing except for Pacquiao's fight with Timothy Bradley. Not that I'd dare suggest that means anything. After all, fear of needles.
But the larger point is that the UFC's combat sports cousin is seeing a shift in drug testing demands. Fighters and fans seem to want to try to clean up the sport a bit by going beyond the current system, which experts will say is not really all that effective.
Dana White had been resistant to the idea of upping the UFC's drug testing, repeating the same lines about how hard the sport is already tested and then asking if people expect him to fly around to test fighters. But recently did start to say that they'd "figure something out" and talked about bringing in an agency.
I can't help but think that a promotion the size of the UFC that talks so tough about wanting everything to be clean can afford to embrace an agency like VADA to take things to the next level. Will any sort of testing ever make a sport 100% clean? No, of course not. But it will make it more difficult for fighters to use in a sport that most people think has rampant PED use.
Of course, there's still probably nothing that can be done about this sudden flood of fighters with low testosterone.