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UFC hires BALCO anti-doping investigator Jeff Novitzky

The UFC has brought in an anti-drug czar, best known as the federal investigator looking into BALCO and baseball's Barry Bonds.

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The UFC has taken the first major real step along the path to fight PED use among their fighters. The promotion announced today via press release that they have hired anti-doping investigator Jeff Novitzky as their 'Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance'. Here's some background on Novitzky, from the release:

Novitzky, who has been a federal agent for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008, led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids. Prior to joining the USFDA, Novitzky was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service in their Criminal Investigation Department, where he oversaw and investigated some of the highest-profile performance enhancing drug (PED) cases in professional sports.

The high-profile cases include being the lead investigator into BALCO and Barry Bonds. In addition to that, he been part of investigations into Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong.

The release also included a statement from a UFC official:

"There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky," UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. "When we announced our commitment for an enhanced drug testing program in February, we wanted to ensure that the best people would be helping move this program forward and Jeff will lead the UFC in developing the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in professional sports."

Novitzky joins the UFC next week and will work out of their headquarters in Las Vegas. The hiring comes on the heels of a press conference in February where the promotion stated their intent to crack down on the use of PEDs by their athletes. This came after a string of positive tests by fighters, the most notable of which being Anderson Silva.