SYDNEY AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: BJ Penn speaks to the media during a UFC 127 Press Conference at Star City on December 14 2010 in Sydney Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
B.J. Penn and Rory MacDonald had VADA come in and offer them a sponsorship for their very legitimate brand of drug testing for their UFC 152 bout. Both fighters discussed it on Twitter and agreed to the testing, only to have Penn decide he was no longer interested when VADA insisted that their usual protocols were followed with test results immediately offered up to the commission. These tests would happen in the weeks leading up to the bout, meaning a positive test would derail the bout, similar to a pair of situations in boxing with positive tests forcing the cancellation of rematches between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz as well as Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson.
Penn is claiming that he still wants the testing, he just doesn't want the results released until after the bout. Via MMA Junkie:
"This isn't an amateur sport. What I expressed to VADA was that results need to be released after the fight, but VADA wants to do it before the fight, and I said, 'I'm not trying to put the UFC's fight in danger by doing that.' I said, 'What's the problem? Let's do the results after the fight.'"
"It doesn't do me any good to train for three months, and I don't get to fight," Penn said. "It doesn't do MacDonald any good, and it doesn't do any good for (UFC co-owners) Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta to put millions of dollars into marketing a fight that could get canceled.
"I'm not trying to put any pressure on Dana White. He has nothing to do with this. When the anti-doping agency can come on friendly terms and be more welcome with a company like the UFC, I think that's what they should do, and I don't know why they're waiting and pushing this to take longer."
Of course, losing out on a fight because your opponent tests positive is an unfortunate reality of drug testing. But the point of VADA isn't to issue out post-fight punishments to fighters who competed dirty, it's to prevent the competition from happening under anything other than "legitimate terms."
There's no more meaningless line there than "this isn't an amateur sport." Do professional sports require fighters be allowed to compete no matter what and then handled after the fact?
I can certainly see reason that this would be preferable for the UFC. I mean, yes, we've lost out on a lot of fights already due to injury, potentially losing more because fighters are juicing (or, in more unfortunate cases, are using tainted supplements...which is still their responsibility) would be bad. But that's what having a truly clean sport means. It means knowing that fighters are as clean as you can possibly have them be (some may still beat tests) every time they step into the cage. Not knowing that if they cheat that they're going to be caught and punished after the fact.
And let's get real. A heavily hyped fight taking place and then it coming out that the drug testing company (and one would assume the promotion) have known for weeks that the guy was on steroids and thus the result is voided would simply be bad PR.
Not to mention the idea that were a fighter to get seriously injured against another fighter who tested positive and then was knowingly allowed to compete at unnatural athletic advantage would be a huge legal liability.
It's just not realistic and we can probably expect VADA to have nothing to do with the fight now.