The UFC released a very interesting bit of information this afternoon, all new UFC and Strikeforce fighters will have to pass a performance-enhancing drug screening. This news came out very shortly after news that "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal had tested positive for steroids after his last Strikeforce fight.
Here's the official press release:
Continuing a commitment to the health and safety of its athletes, the Ultimate Fighting Championship® announced today that all potential UFC® and STRIKEFORCE® signees will be subject to a mandatory pre-contract screening for performance-enhancing drugs. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, all incoming athletes will be tested prior to finalizing a contract with the world's premier mixed martial arts organization.
UFC and STRIKEFORCE already work closely with the most prestigious regulators and athletic commissions to ensure the healthy and safety of athletes prior to competition. This includes contestants on The Ultimate Fighter®, all of whom are pre-screened for performance-enhancing drugs prior to participating on the longest-running sports reality show on television.
All current UFC and STRIKEFORCE athletes will continue to be screened for performance-enhancing drugs, both prior to competition and at random, in accordance with athletic commission rules and regulations.
"We're committed to the health and safety of our athletes and we take it very seriously," UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. "We already work closely with athletic commissions to protect our athletes and now we're taking it one step further. We're going to test any potential UFC or STRIKEFORCE fighter before finalizing their contract. This shows that we don't want performance-enhancing drugs in our sport."
This pre-contract screening policy further cements the organization's dedication to the well-being of its athletes. In May, the organization announced that nearly 350 UFC and STRIKEFORCE independent contractor athletes would be eligible for customized accident insurance coverage, an unprecedented policy that covers accidental injuries suffered by athletes while training, as well as non-training incidents such as automobile accidents.
"The health and safety of our athletes is our top priority," UFC President Dana White said. "We've seen the issues performance-enhancing drugs have caused in other sports and we're going to do everything we can to keep them out of the UFC and STRIKEFORCE. Our athletes are already held to the highest testing standards in all sports by athletic commissions. Our new testing policy for performance-enhancing drugs only further shows how important it is to us to have our athletes competing on a level playing field."
There is a lot to say both on the positive and negative side of things here. But we'll be breaking all that down over this week so stay tuned.