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UFC drug policy includes increased punishments, year-round testing starting July 1

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The UFC announced today that they've partnered up with USADA for stricter drug testing standards than ever before. Check out some of the details and punishments.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In an effort to "clean up the sport", the UFC has gone through with major changes to its drug testing standards that will soon go into effect next month (July 1). In a press conference in Las Vegas, Jeff Novitzky (VP of Athlete Health and Performance) announced the UFC has partnered with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to implement a new policy that features vastly increased drug testing and substantially harsher punishments for failures.

Here are some of the highlights from today's presser:

Punishments for non-specified substances (steroids, HGH, blood doping drugs, etc.)

  • To be tested in and out of competition year-round.
  • 1st offense: 2 years (with possibility of 4 years for "aggravating circumstances")
  • 2nd offense: Double the sanction for the 1st offense
  • 3rd offense: Double the sanction for the 2nd offense

Punishments for specified substances (marijuana, cocaine, other stimulants, etc.)

  • To be tested for in-competition only. In competition is defined as 6 hours before the weigh-ins and 6 hours after a fight.
  • 1st offense: 1 year (with possibility of 2 additional years for "aggravating circumstances")
  • 2nd offense: Double the sanction for the 1st offense
  • 3rd offense: Double the sanction for the 2nd offense

Other key facts and figures

  • Fighters are subject to forfeiture of their UFC ranking, belt, and purse or other compensation due to a failed test. Results for fighters will also be overturned to DQ losses.
  • Any purse, compensation or fine will be put toward the cost of the UFC's anti-doping program and/or anti-doping research.
  • A minimum of 2750 tests per year spread across the entire UFC roster, which will be administered without advance notice. Testing can include EPO, HGH, blood, urine, and CIR.
  • Fighters will be required to alert USADA of their whereabouts at all times.
  • A "whistleblower" line will be made available to fighters.
  • Failure to properly notify USADA or miss a drug test altogether constitutes a strike against a fighter. Three strikes in a year is the equivalent of a failed drug test.
  • Past failures prior to the new policy will be taken into consideration (under "aggravating circumstances") when assessing punishments for repeat offenders.
  • All fighter tests and locations -- that is, location of the tests taken -- will be available on the USADA website, searchable by fighter.
  • USADA has full control over drug testing procedure, with no input from the UFC.
  • If a commission-issued punishment is deemed less harsh than the UFC's, the UFC-issued punishment will still be implemented as a deterrent.

Present at the press conference were Novitzky, Lawrence Epstein, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and USADA Board Chairman Edwin Moses and CEO Travis Tygart. They fielded questions from the media about the new protocol, including an actual gem over the phone where it was asked whether or not White, Fertitta, and Joe Rogan were also subject to the same standards.

This is all a lot of information to digest and there is still more we will expand on in-depth. Bloody Elbow will continue providing articles based on today's news, including details on the new UFC Lab in Nevada.