UFC and Dana White seem to prefer blissful ignorance on PED use in the sport

USA TODAY Sports

Dana White relies on the old "tested by the government" UFC cliches to dismiss the validity of better drug testing or the need to investigate the Biogenesis lab that reportedly helped mixed martial artists dope.

"We're regulated by the government" and "our guys are tested by the government" are two of UFC president Dana White's go-to lines when it comes to any questions about the quality of drug testing his fighters are put through. The White narrative is that of the most and best tested sport in the world. Of course, most people with any knowledge of the procedures state athletic commissions use for testing know that the testing is woefully lacking.

A commission like the Nevada State Athletic Commission tries to do what it can with the money it has, it can't afford to run the best-of-the-best testing on every fighter to step into the cage or ring in their state. Some will point to their 6:1 testosterone ratio as evidence that there is a long way to go under the testing they can do, and that is true. Though the 4:1 ratio used by WADA is still technically "unnatural," and I believe the NSAC is going to switch to that ratio in the near future anyway.

The gulf between fighters and "legitimate testing" has been reduced through agencies like VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency. VADA isn't cheap, meaning it isn't really a solution for all fights, but it is a possibility for big money fights and has been successful catching fighters with prohibited substances in their system already. They are by no means a perfect entity. But, given how USADA allowed Erik Morales to fight despite two positive tests last October, I have no problem saying that VADA occupies the space as best available option.

That's what made it a breath of fresh air to see a major UFC fight, featuring arguably their biggest star, operate under VADA testing. Georges St. Pierre responded to those who have accused him of using PED's by deciding he'd undergo VADA's comprehensive testing, offered opponent Johny Hendricks the opportunity to also participate for their UFC 167 bout (Hendricks accepted) and then GSP went the next step of paying for the testing out of his own pocket.

This would seem to be a perfect promotional opportunity for White and the UFC. The list of athletes who have ever said "I want to be tested in the best way possible" is infinitesimal, the list that said "and I'll pay for it myself" is even smaller. This was the chance for Dana to say "look at one of our most accused fighters paying out of his own pocket to show that he's a clean athlete."

Instead, what did Dana say? That it was "a little weird" and, again, busting out another "We're regulated by the government – the government comes in and does all the drug testing." Similarly, he'd called Rory MacDonald and B.J. Penn's VADA plans "stupid" last year.

When he wasn't busy with the defenestration of an easy promotional opportunity, White also found time to dismiss the Biogenesis scandal.

Major League Baseball became very active in trying to track down the names of the athletes tied to the Biogenesis clinic when the situation broke. While you can take issue with the punishments doled out and the like, you can't argue that they did nothing. Whistleblower Porter Fischer stated that boxers and mixed martial artists were clients at the clinic, it's unlikely that we're talking about low-level regional guys and probable that the involved parties either are or were in the UFC.

When asked if the UFC would pursue the names of the involved parties, either through the government that is reportedly investigating the clinic or by attempting to contact Fischer himself, White's answer was predictable:

"These guys get tested by the government; I don't give a s--t about Biogenesis," he said. "I've got so much s--t to do. I can barely keep up with what I'm doing now. I'm not going to fly down there or get on the phone with these guys.

"Believe me, if bad s--t is going to happen, it's going to come to me."

The UFC doesn't have to investigate the situation. Even if they tried it's entirely possible that they wouldn't be able to get the names of anyone involved with the clinic.

Shane Mosley was doping through Victor Conte's BALCO lab and fought Oscar De La Hoya. The government was already investigating BALCO and knew Mosley was a client but didn't notify the NSAC (you know..."the government" that Dana talks about testing his fighters) and risk compromising their investigation. Mosley won that fight and the NSAC did not yet have rules that allowed for overturning of a bout in those circumstances so he kept the win despite being on "cream," "clear" and EPO.

Depending on the breadth of the government investigation, it's entirely possible they already know about UFC fighters that were doping via Biogenesis who have fought or are currently fighting.

Admitting that the UFC doesn't have to investigate, the part that's odd about Dana's response (aside from again using the "tested by the government" line as though efficiency and effectiveness are hallmarks of government oversight) is falling back again on the idea that he doesn't have time. This is similar to an old stance he took in regards to VADA as it was first getting established, that he didn't have the time to fly around and oversee all the testing. Similarly, I'm sure the Biogenesis investigation could be better handled by others in the organization than by it being Dana's personal responsibility.

These are not jobs where Dana needs to be pointman. VADA doesn't need Dana to fly around and aid in testing. VADA even has a standing offer to oversee the UFC's drug testing program for a year with no administrative fees. The UFC would simply give VADA a budget of their own choosing and then VADA would use that money to establish testing procedures (who is tested when and for what at what intervals). Again, it's something the UFC doesn't have to do, but the opportunity to get serious about their drug testing is there. And, after the year without administrative fees, they could evaluate and see if it's a road they want to continue traveling.

The reality is, most of Dana's responses to things like better drug testing, Biogenesis or similar situations reads a lot more like they're fine not knowing and, in fact, quite prefer it that way.

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