VADA responds to Lorenzo Fertitta's comments about third-party drug testing in the UFC

Michael Cohen

The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association responds to comments from UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta casting doubt on the possible role of third-party drug testing in MMA.

Georges St. Pierre's departure from the UFC has renewed interest in drug testing in the UFC and the ineffectual current standards for the sport. St. Pierre's attempt to work with third-party testing program VADA for his bout with Jonny Hendricks was seemingly undercut by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC. While St. Pierre completed the VADA testing, he did it without the participation of Hendricks.

The current move has been for the NSAC to claim that they can run their own testing programs that can be as effective and thorough as what can be accomplished by VADA or USADA.

St. Pierre has been very upfront since taking his leave that he believes random, third-party testing is necessary to clean up the sport, and seems to be a condition for his return.

Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC co-owner, recently spoke to ESPN.com and shot down the idea of the inclusion of a third-party:

"I think we have to understand at the end of the day we are unlike other sports," Fertitta told ESPN.com. "We are regulated and cannot be presumptuous in thinking we can just take away whatever authority [commissions] have and put it in our hands. It’s not that simple.

...

"VADA has no jurisdiction over a fight," Fertitta said. "Whether a fight takes place, suspensions, a fighter license -- it’s all relative to the commission. I don’t want to put words in their mouth, but they don’t want to be in a situation where a third party has done testing, they have no idea what happened and are then put in a position where they have to render a decision on something they had nothing to do with.

"The commission is more than willing to test for whatever [banned substances]. Georges just wants to make sure they are adhering to the level of a VADA, which I think clearly can be put into place. That’s not a problem."

VADA contacted Bloody Elbow late Thursday night to provide a response to Fertitta's statements:

To date, commissions have accepted and reviewed our results, irrespective of conducting their own testing. VADA notifies commissions, the ABC, the promoter and the fighter as results are obtained. It is the role of the commission to adjudicate those results. VADA's only role is to facilitate testing and educate the participants.

Unannounced, year-round PED testing of all UFC athletes can be done if the promoter or another entity is willing to fund the program, but it takes considerable time and forethought to have it done correctly, uniformly and fairly. It goes beyond funding. Athletes must have complete knowledge of the program's procedures, policies and results management. Irrespective of funding, few commissions have the manpower to institute a year-round program of all licensees.

When the UFC holds events outside a commission's jurisdiction, they are acting as a third party and adjudicator. We remain available to promotional organizations like the UFC when they hold contests and test athletes where there is no commission. When commissions arrange testing, it should be independent of any specific recommendations by the promotional company.

It's important to keep the discussion at the forefront. This continues to be VADA's goal. Along with our renown scientific director, Dr. Don Catlin, who independently certifies the results, we continue to advise many athletic commissions and physicians worldwide regarding expanding their PED testing protocols.

Both Dr. Flip Homansky, VADA's VP and myself have known Mr. Fertitta for many years. We would be happy to meet with him at any time to detail not only our program, but discuss what VADA and how PED education can be expanded to all the UFC athletes.

It is worth noting that the NSAC and other commissions have dealt with third party drug testing on numerous occasions. The NSAC has a history of dealing with failed VADA drug tests in cases such as Lamont Peterson ahead of his 2012 bout with Amir Khan.

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